Nov 29, 2012 SAN DIEGO--The percentage of Americans over age 50 on social networking sites nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010, according to the Pew Research Center.Some of those older adults are logging on to dating sites, but they might not be as savvy as they should be about how to protect their privacy, according to one researcher.
She found that about three-quarters used the default privacy settings on the site."What that means is that anybody can see the photos that they're showing, they can see the blogs, they know whether their families live close to them or far away, they know if they're discussing what their mental health issues might be," said Vander Weerd, who presented her study at the Gerontological Society of America conference ealier this month."A lot of older women are describing these things publicly in their online profile."Putting Themselves at Risk Since Vander Weerd collected her data, My Space has moved back to its roots as a music-sharing site.But results from the free dating site Plenty of Fish are showing similar disclosure trends, according to Vander Weerd.She said that is putting some of the women in her sample at serious risk."If you're a perpetrator and you're looking for someone who might be more vulnerable, it's very easy to target someone whose family perhaps lives far away, who might have some sort of disability that might make it more easy to victimize that person," Vander Weerd said.Vanderweerd said she does not know if disclosure trends are different for younger adults on dating sites, but older women are often seen as more vulnerable in general, so more information being revealed may put them at greater risk.Vander Weerd said her research isn't meant to scare older women away from online dating, just encourage them to be more careful about the information they reveal.
Carolyn Beeler produced this story for WHYY public radio in Philadelphia through the Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellows program, a collaboration of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America.
Hundreds of like-hearted individuals join Spiritual Singles Dating Site every day to create love, spiritual connections and life-long partnerships.
Older online dater Nina Todor is careful about her privacy. J., woman says she even changed her e-mail address so potential dates can't see her last name.
The worst experience she's had: a bad phone conversation."It was about politics," Todor said.
Before the election, a contact spoke strongly about his own political beliefs."And when he got finished, he said, and 'you haven't said anything, and I don't really want to hear what you have to say,' and he hung up," Todor said.
"That was the worst, I really have been very lucky."Todor is on a paid dating site, where only other members can see her profile, which makes her feel more secure.