Being Smart on Smartphones and Social Networks

A study from Statistics Canada revealed that seniors are the fastest growing segment of Internet users in Canada and that 69 per cent of Canadians aged 55 to 64 and 18 per cent of those 75 years and older own a smartphone. In addition to adopting mobile technologies like smartphones and tablets, seniors are also joining social media networks to stay connected.  It is now more important than ever before to empower seniors to stay safe in our digital world.

The Canada Safety Council has partnered with TELUS during National Senior Safety Week, held from November 6 – 12, to bring a heightened focus on supporting seniors as they develop critical thinking and safe practices when using smartphones and social media.

Social media sharing and safety

There is a thin line between being connected and over sharing on social media. Here are six tips to help you protect your privacy and avoid over sharing on social media:

  1. Never share your passwords, banking information, social insurance number or any other private information online. This tip may seem like common sense, but there may come a time when you need to share this information with a family member. Instead of sending the information online, it is more prudent to call them or, ideally, deliver the information in person.
  2. Set strong and unique passwords or passphrases (i.e. a complete sentence such as ILoveMyGrandkids367*) for your accounts and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for added protection; with 2FA, you need to authenticate yourself with something in addition to your username and password, such as a code that is sent to your device by text.
  3. Switch your social media profile to private in order to hide your profile information from users you have not accepted as friends.
  4. Regularly review and update your privacy and permission settings so that you’re comfortable with what information you’re sharing and with whom.
  5. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers or those you don’t know.
  6. Be mindful of what you post and share, including information you may be unknowingly sharing. For instance, posting photos while on vacation is an indication that you’re not at home.  You may also be inadvertently sharing the location in which the photos and/or videos were taken.  This is done through the process of geo-tagging, which adds geographical location data to photos or videos.  To enhance your privacy, turn geo-tagging off in your phone settings and wait to share vacation photos until you return.

Mobile device safety

Protect your information on your phone (or tablet) by implementing these steps:

  1. Set up a passcode on your device so no one can access your device without your permission and update settings so your phone automatically locks after a period of inactivity.
  2. Most smartphones have a feature allowing you to locate your phone remotely in case you lose it, or delete data/disable it if it is stolen. Be sure this feature is activated (Find my Phone on iOS and Find my Device on Android).
  3. Erase all content and settings (iOS) and/or perform a factory reset (Android) on your phone before giving it away or recycling it. This will wipe the phone clean of all your data and is more secure relative to manually deleting the information on your phone item by item.
  4. When using free Wi-Fi in public places, be cautious of what information you transmit over the Internet. Don’t download any software updates over public Wi-Fi. It is an easy way to accidentally introduce a virus onto your device. Avoid surfing sites that require you to login, but if you can’t avoid it make sure the URL of the website starts with https and not http. This indicates an added layer of data encryption. Refrain from doing any online shopping so as to protect your credit card information.
  5. When downloading apps, read the privacy and permission agreements. These outline what information of yours is shared with the developer when you agree to their terms.

Stay tuned for our upcoming National Senior Safety Week release, where we’ll be sharing information about common scams impacting seniors. Visit the Canada Safety Council’s website for more safety information and a showcase of safety through the century as the organization celebrates 100 years in safety.

You can also take advantage of TELUS Wise, a free digital safety education program, offering Canadians of all ages interactive and informative workshops and resources. Topics include protecting your online security, privacy and reputation, rising above cyberbullying, and using technology responsibly.

For more information, please contact:

Lewis Smith
Manager, National Programs, Canada Safety Council
613-739-1535 x228

Sacha Gudmundsson
Communications Manager, TELUS
647-472-8856