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Oversharing on social media common amongst 50+

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Thanks to social media, societal norms have undergone a seismic shift in the past five years. What was once considered private or even taboo is not only fair game, it’s expected. But this can have serious consequences from the ending of friendships to exposure to physical harm.

I’ve talked about the concept of TMI or too much information and how social networking and mobile devices have made sharing so much easier and faster than ever before. But we all need to seriously think about some hard consequences of sharing too much personal information. Thinks about it…is that friend really a friend if you haven’t seen them in 25 years?

McAfee’s Fifty Plus Booms Online study found despite the fact that social networks have a reputation among the younger generation as a hub for drama among friends, this is also the case among other demographics—even in the 50-and-over age group. According to respondents, 16% of those who are active on social networks have had a negative experience, with almost 20% of those resulting in ending a friendship.

Further, the study finds that even though 88% consider themselves tech-savvy, they are still engaging in dangerous online behavior, such as sharing personal information with people they have never met in person. Even though 75% of them believe that social networks can expose them to risks such as fraud and identity theft, 52% have shared their email address, 27% their mobile phone number and 26% their home address. All things that open them up to possible exploitation and even physical harm.

They are also using their mobile devices to share information. Nearly one in four (24%) mobile users have used their device to send personal or intimate text messages, emails or photos to someone and yet over 30% do not have basic password protection on their mobile devices and almost half do not have any security software on their mobile devices.

And because these boomers (and all of us) are spending more time online-with 97% of them going online daily and spending an average of 5 hours a day online- we all must be aware of the concerns that exist with the increased use of mobile devices for everyday tasks and social networking and what information we may be sharing.

Here’s some tips to help us stay protected:

  • Remember the Internet is forever—Even if you have the highest privacy settings, it’s good practice to consider anything you do on the Internet as public knowledge, so be careful what you share online or via your mobile device.
  • Don’t reveal personal information—Seriously consider why it’s needed before you post your address, phone number, Social Security number, or other personal information online.
  • Put a PIN on it—Make sure you have your smartphone and tablet set to auto-lock after a certain time of unused and make sure it requires a PIN or passcode to unlock it. This is especially helpful to protect any information you do not want seen should your device be lost or stolen.
  • Manage your privacy settings—At most, only friends you know in real life should be able to see details of your profile.
  • Change your passwords frequently—In addition to choosing passwords that are difficult to guess (try to make them at least eight characters long and a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols), remember to regularly change your passwords.
  • Turn off the GPS (Global Positioning Service) function on your smartphone camera—If you are going to be sharing your images online, you don’t want people to know the exact location of where you are.
  • Use comprehensive security on all your device Enjoy a safe online experience no matter what you do or where you are. McAfee LiveSafe™ service protects all your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets and can help you secure your data and keep your identity private with its many different features, including a secure data vault, password manager, and protection from phishing scams and malware.

So…really, please, come on now, can we all just tone it down a notch? And one more thing: Please protect your devices—I mean ALL your devices.

Follow @McAfeeConsumer for live online safety updates and tips and use hashtag #BabyBoomers to join the discussion on Twitter or like McAfee on Facebook.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!Disclosures.

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