social mediaSocial media has become a staple of everyday life, and everyone from teens to grandparents uses these websites to connect with friends and family members the world over. It may seem harmless to share photos of your newborn grandchildren and tell people about your spectacular vacation plans, but you could actually be attracting the wrong kind of attention.

While there are perfectly harmless online activities, be sure to educate yourself on certain guidelines before you start posting pictures of a new birthday gift or checking in online to tell people about a new restaurant you’re trying out. You never know when someone might be paying attention to the information not because they care but because they care about using it for illegal purposes.

Pros and cons

There are hundreds of social media platforms like Facebook (with nearly 1.2 billion monthly users) to share things about your life, what you’re doing, where you’re going and so on. Social media offers many benefits including:

  • It’s an easy way to connect with people who live far away (perhaps in a different time zone, which can make getting in touch on the telephone inconvenient.
  • You can see photos of your friends and family and learn about what’s going on in their lives much faster than waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail.
  • If you’re a small business owner or the coordinator of an event, there are social media tools and tricks for effectively promoting your brand or product. Even if you’re in charge of a social group or just planning a one-time event, certain social media websites are a great way for everyone to stay in touch and let you know whether they can attend.

However, there are also consequences if social media platforms are used inappropriately and practices to stay away from, mainly for safety reasons. People will post just about anything on Facebook, Twitter and a number of other social media sites, but just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

According to, some of the things that should never be shared on social media websites include:

  • Personal information that makes it too easy for just anybody to contact you or locate you: Make sure your social media profiles don’t include your home address or phone number.
  • Your travel or vacation plans – Believe it or not, criminals troll these types of sites to see when people will be out of town and for how long. If they can obtain your address then, you’ve pretty much given them an open invitation to make themselves at home – at your house!
  • Your whereabouts whenever you’re not home – Similar to travel plans, letting people know when you’re out on the town by “checking in” with social media smartphone apps like Foursquare lets people – including burglars – know that no one is at your house.

Play it safe and know what’s OK and what’s not OK to post on your favorite social media site. Also make sure to adjust your privacy settings to the highest levels.

Following your family or even your favorite celebrities on social media sites can be a fun way to stay connected to the ones you love and the world around you. Just make sure you’re wise about what you do online in your golden years and you’ll be … well, golden!

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