Are you interested in social media, but not sure how to get started? The first piece of advice social media consultant Barbra Drizin gives seniors is "be an explorer."
Drizin, who founded the consulting firm Start From Scratch Social Media, offers presentations at Vi at La Jolla Village, including the popular "Social Media Made Easy." Her mission is to help everyone feel comfortable and confident in the virtual world.
"The 55+ age group is the fastest growing group on the Internet," said Drizin. "There is so much out there for seniors. Social media gives seniors a way to stay connected with family, improve brain fitness, and learn new things."
Here are five steps to getting started with social media, courtesy of Drizin:
DON'T BE AFRAID
"Seniors need to pay attention to security and privacy online, but they shouldn't be afraid of social media, of just exploring. Going online and surfing around on your own will not break your computer. So many of us went to school in a time when we were told to wait for instruction, to not move ahead without someone telling us what to do. But social media requires a different mindset. Enjoy searching and clicking around to take full advantage of it," said Drizin.
EXPAND YOUR DEFINITION OF SOCIAL MEDIA
When you hear the term "social media" you may immediately think of Facebook or Twitter. While those are two of the most popular, visible social networks on the web, there are many ways to take advantage of social sites and applications.
"YouTube.com is a site where anyone can upload video, and people have taken the time to upload every kind of video. You can watch without creating an account," said Drizin. "Just go to YouTube and search for the name of an artist or a topic that interests you. You can even watch a video that shows you how to set up an email or Facebook account. Discover old episodes of your favorite TV shows from the past, likeThis Is Your Life. Listen to live concerts of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. If you want to learn something new, search on 'university courses' and you can watch hundreds of videos posted by Harvard, Stanford, and Yale."
"You can also improve brain fitness on sites like Lumosity.com and Mindgames.com, or by playing social games like Words With Friends on your phone."
STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH PRIVACY SETTINGS AND SECURITY
"One of the things people find frustrating is that sites like Facebook have default privacy settings that may not be what you like. You must go to 'privacy settings' in the menu to adjust who can see your page and your posts" said Drizin. She advises that when you create a Facebook account, you go to google.com and search "privacy settings on Facebook" for articles about setting up your account so the information you post only appears to the friends in your network.
STEER CLEAR OF PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW
Don't become friends with people you don't know in real life, advises Drizin, and be wary of email from people you don't know. "Don't open an email from someone you don't know, and never click on an email message that is just a link. These are often messages that can infect your computer."
ONLY USE CREDIT CARDS ON ESTABLISHED SITES
Don't give credit card information over the Internet, except to well-established sites. "Sites like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com have excellent security and work very hard to keep your personal information safe," said Drizin. "Always create safe passwords and write them down in a safe place to help you remember them."