Home > Identity Theft > Over 50 and Oversharing: How Boomers Use Technology

Comments 0 Comments

Grandma and Grandpa are sexting? Yup, says a new survey of 50- to 75-year-olds conducted by security firm McAfee. The research suggests older social media and smartphone users are also oversharing at an alarming rate, putting them at greater risk for identity theft.

More than half of older Net users have shared their email address online, while a little more than 1 in 4 have published their cellphone number or their home address.

The group’s bad habits extend to their smartphones, McAfee says: 1 in 3 don’t password-protect their gadgets, meaning anyone who finds their lost iPhone or Android could have full access to any data on the device.

That might include the ability to spy on some embarrassing messages: 24% of older mobile consumers have used their device to send “intimate personal photos, texts, or emails,” McAfee says. Respect your elders’ privacy, kids.

“Thanks to social media, societal norms have undergone a seismic shift in the past five years,” said McAfee’s Robert Siciliano. “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.”

Unsafe computing habits follow the same learning curve as each demographic adopts a new technology — the Web, email, social media, smartphones, etc. Something about new gadgets turns us all into naive kids again. We each have to get burned a few times before learning not to forward chain emails, not to enter a credit card number into a random website, and not to leave a cellphone on the table without password protection.

The older Americans who do go online are on there a lot, the survey indicates: Those 50-61 spend an average of 5 hours and 42 minutes online a day, compared to those 62-75, who spend 4 hours and 36 minutes online.

But not all older Americans are online: far from it. Still 4 in 10 Americans 65-and-older aren’t online. But the ranks of older Net users are climbing: In 2004, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said only 22% of those 65 and older were online, compared to 53% in 2012, and 59% this year.

For McAfee’s survey, the firm hired The Futures Company to conduct a total of 1,258 online interviews in the U.S. among consumers ages 50-75 who spent at least one hour per week online. Interviews were distributed evenly by demographics.

“We all need to seriously think about some hard consequences of sharing too much personal information,” Siciliano said. “Think about it…is that friend really a friend if you haven’t seen them in 25 years?”

Image: Wavebreak Media

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team