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TheStreet Open House

McAfee Survey Reveals Older Does Not Mean Wiser

Stocks in this article: INTC

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.

STRANGER DANGER STILL RELEVANT AT 50+

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."

SOCIAL NETWORK DRAMA DOESN’T END WITH TEENAGERS

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%).

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