Social media safety for all ages

Social media is a great way to keep up with friends, family and interests. Using social media wisely is part of keeping yourself and your family safe online. Here is some helpful information to socialize safely online for all ages. 

For tweens and teens

Whether you’re a tween, teen or adult, you probably have at least one social media account. Here are some tips to help maintain your privacy and keep your account secure. 

  • Don’t share your password. If you do, change your password if there comes a time when you no longer want the other person to have access to your account. 
  • Check your privacy settings. If you are able to adjust the privacy settings, choose the right level to suit your comfort. Only choose to share the information you want with the connections with whom you wish to share it.  
  • Don’t accept invitations to connect from strangers. Even if the invitation comes from someone who shares a common connection. Your shared connection may not know the person either. If you wish to keep your private information private and your computer system secure, at least confirm that the invitation is legitimate by contacting your mutual connection. 
  • Ponder before you post.  Use good judgment when posting online. Internet content is forever.  Everything you post is promoting you and your personal brand.  If a picture or post is something that would embarrass you, your parents, or your employer, don’t post it.  
  • Don't engage in online bullying.  If someone posts something negative, disengage.

For seniors

Social media is a great tool for seniors to stay connected and pursue their interests. If you're a senior citizen, you are among the demographic group which tends to be more trusting, less technologically savvy and have greater financial resources than younger people, making you more vulnerable to Internet fraud and attractive targets for scammers.  Using a few precautions while online can make engaging in social media safer and more enjoyable.  Here are some tips to avoid common scams: 

  • Beware what you share. Review your social media accounts and make sure that they are set to “private,” so that only your friends and family can see your posts.  
  • Search your name.  Try putting your name into an Internet search engine to see what information about you comes up. That will tell you what a potential scammer would be able to find. Do the same thing without logging on to social media accounts and see what others can see about you. If you are sharing too much information, go to the privacy settings and restrict who can see your information and what information they can see. 
  • Confirm that you actually know your social media “friends.” When you receive a friend request, even if the person has a friend in common with you, confirm that the request is legitimate and that the person is actually who they say they are.  
  • Practice caution if you're active on dating sites.  Even if a dating site is legitimate, the person one meets may not be. When corresponding with a potential love interest, watch for frequent spelling errors, fake photos, professing love early in the relationship and avoiding an in-person meeting. Scammers often claim to be working overseas. Always be on alert for anyone asking for money. Never send money to anyone you meet online. 
  • Be leery of callers.  No one from the government will ever call you and demand money or your personal information or threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not provide it. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the government, ask them to send you a certified letter. If you actually receive a letter (odds are that you will not), search for the return address and phone number online and, if it’s a legitimate address and number, call to follow up. If you receive an email or call from the IRS, call them directly at 1-800-829-1040 for information. 

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