Should RVers use Facebook?
The following article was published in my column with RVwest in March of 2014.
The second largest age group using the social networking site Facebook are 55+ years of age and many RVers fit into that group. It’s extremely popular for keeping in touch with family and friends and since most RVers travel with a laptop computer and internet connections are readily available Facebook is quite accessible. Anyone can set up a Facebook account as long as they have an internet connection and an email account.
RVers can enjoy the many benefits of using Facebook.
• Keep in touch with family members – sharing photos, updates on their lives and yours
• You don’t need to email everyone individually to stay in touch
• Chatting live with friends is possible
• Get free deals, specials, etc. from your favourite stores and companies – by becoming fans of certain companies.
• Entertainment. Play games – either singly or with others.
• Sharing your experiences while on and off the road
• Connect with other RVers and RV Groups
• Find old friends you haven’t seen or heard of in years and reconnect with long-lost friends
Facebook is risky
The same as everything else in life there are always risks and using Facebook is no exception. There are concerns of users being vulnerable to online predators, criminals and to identify theft. It’s not possible to completely eliminate all the risks but it is possible to reduce them by applying strict privacy and security measures. Most threats to personal accounts have happened because of over-sharing of information.
How to set up the security and privacy portions of your Facebook account
When setting up an account it’s recommended that users put very strict security and privacy settings in place at least until they are comfortable with using it. Everyone has their own comfort level as to what they share and once a person understands Facebook more the privacy settings can be relaxed.
Security settings can be customized as to who sees your information – whether it’s public for everyone’s viewing, friends of friends or friends only. The privacy settings offers options to control how people can find you and to maximize your privacy even more select the “off” option for search engine indexing and check these settings occasionally to make sure they are up to date and set to your preferences.
Once the security and privacy settings are in place it’s time to set up the timeline section and determine who you want to be able to add things to your timeline and if they can tag your photos. Facebook has some excellent tutorials for anyone wanting to learn more about managing this. It’s also possible to block people from within these settings. This is a good place to block those people who post things you aren’t comfortable with even though you are friends and don’t worry about hurting their feelings because they won’t know they are blocked unless you tell them.
Safety Tips for Facebook Users to eliminate risks
How can you further reduce the chance of having your information compromised on Facebook?
• Don’t advertise your age. Do you really want people to know how old you really are?
• Do not post your home address
• Don’t post your vacation plans before you leave unless you feel your home is secure.
• Surveys and quizzes – these can be interesting but are also a place where your personal information can be at risk.
• Be careful playing games although they can be fun but limit your personal information to only the basics.
• Password selection is important and it’s not recommended that your pet’s names, children’s names and other personal things easily guessed should be used. Use both numbers and letters that you will remember so come up with a personal system for setting passwords.
• Don’t over-share. This is for the purpose of safety but also so you don’t bore all your friends with about what you ate for lunch. Don’t share personal information you wouldn’t tell someone when you are face to face.
People from all walks of life use Facebook and its membership continues to grow. By careful selection of privacy and security settings it’s entirely possible to comfortably stay in touch with family and friends regularly. It will be surprising as to how many long-lost friendships will be re-ignited and since RVers are a very social group many will enjoy everything Facebook has to offer.
Friends – usually these are family members and friends you know personally but can also be people you have never met but have common interests with. Friends can be added by their sending a friend “request” and having it accepted.
Wall – your Facebook wall is where you post updates to what you are doing, upload photos, and where friends write public messages such as “Happy Birthday”.
Status – this is anything you post about yourself about what is happening to you. It can also be where you post a joke or interesting information you want to share.
Groups – this is where people who have common interests can interact by sharing comments and links. There are numerous Facebook Groups for RVers.