Seniors and Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social media site with 1.86 billion active users each month—a 17% increase year over year. Facebook is no fad, it’s been around commercially for over a decade, and it’s only getting stronger.

Did you know: 75% of over 55s who use the internet are active on Facebook, with that number being consistent since late 2010.  It’s mostly women who use the platform (83% of women use Facebook compared to 75% of men), sharing photos, jokes, interesting news articles and talking with friends and family no matter where they are in the world.

Benefits of using Facebook

Using Facebook has many benefits. From staying in touch with friends and family, to becoming reacquainted with lost friends and staying up-to-date with news and your favorite brands.

Using Facebook to stay connected

The biggest benefit Facebook has provided its users is the ability to stay in touch. When friends move interstate, or to another country, Facebook, and its messenger app, Facebook Messenger, allow you to keep in touch with friends.

The benefit of this is that you can send photos, make phone calls, video calls all within Facebook—and all it costs is a good wi-fi connection.

The Facebook Messenger, which on a mobile device is a separate app (we’ll cover this in the section on using Facebook on a mobile device), allows you to text, call or video call.  You can even video call people in other countries (who also have the app) for free.

Getting reacquainted with old friends

Okay. So, we fall out of touch with some people for a good reason. And we’re happy to stay out of touch with those people. But what about that friend you had at school or college, who you loved hanging out with but for all sorts of reasons lost track of?

Facebook is a surprisingly useful way of finding old friends and getting reacquainted.

And for those people who you’d like to stay out of touch with, well, you can also ignore their friend request (we’ll discuss friend requests soon).

News and your favorite brands

If your preferred news station has a Facebook presence you can follow them on Facebook to stay apprised of the news. You can receive content daily to read (or ignore) at your leisure.

You also have the option of following your favorite brands, celebrities, comedians and—sometimes—politicians. This can be a good idea if you want to stay informed about the latest gossip and news.

Why would I want to follow brands on Facebook?

This is a fair question, with a simple answer. Brands know their customers don’t have to follow them on Facebook, or any social media platform, so they often encourage people with competitions and specials that are exclusive to their Facebook page.

By following your favorite brands, you can also find out about in-store specials and other deals before they make it to newspapers, TV or radio.

Setting up a profile

Creating a Facebook account is fairly straightforward.

First, go to:

On the right-hand side, there will be a form with the heading “Create an Account” and the subheading “It’s free and always will be.”


Each box has grey words telling you what you need to put there (e.g. write your first name where it says first name etc.).

Once you have filled in all the information, selected your date of birth and gender—you can click the green button that says “Create Account”.

If you have filled out all the boxes correctly, a new page will load. If you have not filled out all the boxes, a red line of text will appear under the box you need to fix.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be taken to the next screen. Which will ask you to merge your email contacts. If you don’t want to do this, go to the right corner and click next.

Your profile

The next screen will say “Welcome to Facebook” with a four-step process. Above the title “Welcome” will be a colored banner (usually blue) that will ask you to go to your email and confirm that you are who you say you are.

All you need to do for this is click the “confirm now” link and follow the instructions. This isn’t time sensitive, so there’s no need to rush. If you are unsure it’s always good to read Facebook’s email in full.

Once you’ve confirmed your account you can add friends, discover just how safe Facebook can be, and upload a photo.

Adding Friends

Here you can add your email to see if any of your email contacts are on Facebook. It’s as simple as entering your details and clicking the blue button that says “Find Friends”.

If you don’t want to import your email contact list—or you don’t have an email contact list to import—you can skip this step. You don’t need to do anything, just move on to step two:

Privacy Settings

This is a great option for those who are worried about posting their private information on Facebook. Facebook takes the privacy of its users very seriously, because it knows that if a user has just one bad experience; they will leave. They will deactivate their account, completely remove the app from their phone and go use one of the dozen other social media platforms around.

Facebook wants you to use it. The more people on Facebook the more it can charge marketers and advertisers. Which is good. Because while advertisers and marketers are paying for Facebook—the general population doesn’t have to.

You will see, as we go through what you should and shouldn’t do, that Facebook does two things: tries to look out for its users and tries to keep them using Facebook or Facebook-affiliated apps as often as possible.

Take Facebook’s privacy tour

To take Facebook’s privacy tour, click the blue button “Take a Privacy Tour”. Now, depending on the speed of your internet connect, it might take a few seconds for a small window to pop up.

“Who sees what you share” is the first of four windows you can view. Each one provides you with snapshot of information on how you can keep what you post private. The difference between “Public” and “Friends” is:

If you pick friends, then only people who are friends with you on Facebook can see what you post. This improves your privacy by telling Facebook not to make it accessible to every Facebook user.

Which is what happens when you select public. If you post something and choose public, the post can find itself in Facebooks search results. However, this isn’t necessarily something to worry about if you’re sharing interesting recipes, YouTube videos or cat memes (more on these things in “How to get the most out of Facebook”).

You’ll notice that at the bottom of “Who sees what you share” there are buttons on the left and right sides. If you don’t want to view the next slide you can click the grey “Close” button, and then move on to step three (we recommend clicking through all four slides though).

If you want to see the next slide, click the blue button on the left that says “Next”.

Tagging is something to do when you post photos of family and friends—we’ll cover this in more detail in “How to share content”.

“Your Privacy Shortcuts” is the most important when it comes to: who can see your profile and what you post; who can contact you; and how to report abusive or unwanted behavior to Facebook.

Friends and family may invite you to play a game, in which case you will need to download that game and provide it with information before it downloads: we’ll cover this in more depth in “How to get the most out of Facebook”. For now, this screen shows you what to expect from a legitimate app asking for permission to your public information.

It’s also important to point out it says public information, not private information. This is just one of the reasons it’s so important to set your privacy settings on Facebook.

Once you have read this last screen you can either press the grey button “Close” on the left-hand side or the blue button “Finish” on the right-hand side. And you’re ready for the final two steps:

Upload a profile picture and find friends

Uploading a photo of yourself helps your friends find you on Facebook—after all, are you the only person with your name?

Click the green “Add Picture” button on the right next to the picture frame and choose a photo you’re happy to place on Facebook. It may take a minute or two for the photo to load: and when it does the photo will go from being on the left, to in the center, like this:

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to find your friends and family on Facebook.

Underneath the text “Search by name or look for schoolmates and colleagues”, you’ll notice it says enter a name or email. You can now starting sending people you know friend requests to befriend you on Facebook.

This is a segment of our publication on seniors and social media.  To receive a copy of the entire book please contact us.


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