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24 Oct, 2013

McAfee Survey: Older Users of Social Networks Are Up, But Face More Threats


October 23, 2013, SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–McAfee today released findings from the company’s first survey dedicated to uncovering the online habits and behaviors of individuals ages 50-75. The study, “Fifty Plus Booms Online” indicates that the 50+ demographic is spending a great deal of time online these days (an average of five hours a day), instilling confidence in their attitude toward technology.

Some 88% of participants say they consider themselves equally or more tech-savvy compared to others their age. Despite this proclaimed comfort level—or maybe because of it— Baby Boomer adults are socially engaging online, exposing themselves to social media reproach and dangerous security risks, including sharing personal information with strangers.


Many Baby Boomers have voluntarily shared personal information with people they have never met in person (this does not include online shopping or business transactions). Overall, 57% have shared information or posted online personal information. This includes 52% who have shared their email address, 27% who have shared their cell phone number and 26% who have shared their home address.

According to Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee, the discovery that this confident, self-proclaimed tech-savvy group exhibits high-risk online behavior, is reason to raise awareness.

“The use of social networks among people 50+ is trending now that it’s become more commonplace across all age groups,” said Dennedy. “It seems counterintuitive that sharing personal information with strangers would not concern them, however. This further highlights their need to better understand the difference between the real and perceived dangers online and how to best protect themselves.”


Despite the fact that social networks have a reputation among the younger generation as a hub for drama among friends, the survey found this to be the case even in this age group. Eight in ten use social media networks, 36% of which log in daily, opening the doors to the possibilities of social media drama. Sixteen percent admitted to experiencing negative situations while logged into their social media accounts. These rifts lead to 19% of claims that the incident was severe enough to end a friendship. Other results from those who had negative experiences include inappropriate posts from friends (23%) and having a fight with a friend, spouse, or partner (9%).


Despite their technological confidence, these adults revealed some concerning and surprising realities regarding online security.

Overall, 57% claimed they have shared and/or posted personal information online. Email addresses (52%), cell phone numbers (27%), and even home addresses (26%) have all been shared by these 57% (excluding instances where this information was necessary for online purchases). About 80% of smartphone users and 43% of tablet users post mobile photos online. Surprisingly, another 24% admit to using their devices to send personal or intimate messages in the form of text, email, or photo messages.

Yet, more than 1/3 of them (33% of smartphone users and 38% of tablet users) admit to having no password protection on their devices to safeguard these risqué conversations from reaching the public. Worse still, while nearly all (93%) say their laptops and desktops have updated security software, only 56% of smartphone users and 59% of tablet users say their devices are protected from viruses and malware.

To learn more about this study, please click here: http://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/50plus-tech-savvy-but-still-at-risk