A guide to enhancing your Facebook experience

Over the years, the Internet has become more than just a place to search questions on Google and online shop. Thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, the Web is now a hotspot for communicating with loved ones and maintaining long-distance relationships.

If you enjoy surfing the Internet in your spare time, you're not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of older adults are frequent Internet users, with 71 percent going online every day. Pew also noted that 75 percent of these users take advantage of the Internet to communicate with family and that those who use social media sites are better engaged with loved ones, an essential aspect of healthy aging

This is why Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites on the Web. According to a report by Forrester, almost half of online adults have a Facebook account. Although the benefits of using Facebook are clear, there are some obstacles that put people off. If you're considering creating a Facebook account or want to ensure you're getting the most from your current experience, refer to this guide for Facebook users.

"There are useful tricks for users who want to protect their privacy."

How to enhance your Facebook experience Uploading pictures, sending live chats and making statuses has never been easier thanks to Facebook's easy-to-use interface. However, while these tasks may be simple, there are useful tricks that may not be as obvious for users who want to protect their privacy and enhance their overall experience. 

1. Controlling what you see - Facebook fills your news feed with pictures and statuses from your friends who you're most likely to engage with based off previous interactions on the site. For example, if you like someone's pictures and posts, your news feed will have more from that person. It also takes into account what everyone else likes, assuming that you'll be more likely to engage with those posts than others. If you notice that your feed is overflowing with posts and pictures you're not interested in seeing, take your viewing experience into your own hands.

  • For mobile devices - If you use Facebook on your mobile device, go to the "More" button at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Scroll down and choose "News Feed Preferences." Options will then pop up that allow you to choose the friends, pages and brands that you are interested in seeing more of. You can also completely unfollow any pages or people. 
  • For computers - Click on the arrow in the top corner of the blue Facebook bar and choose "News Feed and Preferences." Change the setting for your favorites from "Following" to "See First." This will ensure you're staying up to date on things that matter most to you.

2. Controlling what others see - If you're not comfortable with all of your Facebook friends viewing your information and photographs, there's an easy way to control that. Next to your name, there's an image of a small lock with a drop down menu. Choose "Who Can See My Stuff?" and change "Public" to "Only Friends." The same thing can be done for who can contact you by narrowing down your options from "Everyone" to "Friends" or "Friends of Friends." For mobile phones, the process is the same. The only difference is that you tap the "More" menu and select "Privacy Shortcuts."

Protect your safety while using Facebook by reviewing your privacy settings.Protect your safety while using Facebook by reviewing your privacy settings.

3. Finding new friends - Typing the name of an old friend into the search bar is a common way to connect with people. However, adults often use nicknames or may have changed their last names since you saw them last. There are other strategies to get you in touch with the people you're looking for. For example, try entering the name of your high school or college into the search bar. You can even narrow your search by your class year. Facebook will show you the people you're most likely to know based on the number of mutual friends you have with them.

You can also use the "People You May Know" option underneath the "Friend Requests" bar on the top of your page (and bottom on your mobile phone). This gathers all of the people on Facebook that you have the most mutual friends with. Scroll through and see if there are any old friends you want to add.