It’s a myth that older adults have trouble learning new things, especially when it relates to technology. In fact, statistics from Pew Research Center show smartphone usage among seniors has doubled since 2013. That equates to 4 in 10 older adults with a smartphone. Internet use is also climbing steadily, with 67% of seniors surfing the web. Over half of them do so using high-speed internet services at home.
As coronavirus concerns keep more older adults at home, the internet is an easy way to stay connected to friends, family, and businesses. While it’s convenient for seniors to do their banking and shopping from the privacy of their own home, there are risks to consider. To avoid becoming a victim, it’s important for a senior who is new to the internet to learn about common scams.
Here are a few tips from our web team to keep you and your loved ones safe online.
Senior Safety Online
- Use strong passwords: If it seems like everyone you know has been hacked on Facebook, it’s probably not too much of an exaggeration. Older adults might be more susceptible because they aren’t well-versed in creating strong passwords. Passwords should typically be at least eight characters long, and the best ones combine letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use your name, family member names, your address, the name of a pet, or other terms that may be easy to guess.
- Protect home Wi-Fi: If you are working off of home Wi-Fi, as most people do, make sure your network has a strong password too. Having an unprotected network makes you and your private information vulnerable. Anyone with minimal technology skills can access your network from a home next door or even a car parked on the road outside your home.
- Click with caution: When you receive an email from a person or business you don’t know, it’s usually best not to open it. Some contain viruses, and others might be phishing emails designed to steal your identity or financial information. Be especially wary of emails with subject lines promoting anything for “free” or claiming you’ve won a sweepstakes prize.
- Shop secure sites: While virus concerns are causing many older adults to limit the amount of time they spend in stores, shopping online can be a solution. It’s important to shop only on security-enabled sites. Those sites with a URL that begin with https:// are the safest. The “s” signifies that your data is encrypted as it is being transmitted. Never enter financial information into a site that lacks that “s.”
- Check social media privacy settings: Facebook has become a popular social media platform for older adults. Many use it to keep in touch with faraway family members and to reconnect with childhood friends. One thing to be aware of is how to enable privacy settings. Set up your account so only friends can see your posts. Don’t accept Friend requests from people you don’t know personally. Finally, be conscious of what you post on Facebook and when. Are Your Facebook Habits Putting You at Risk for Hacking? is a good article to read to learn more about staying safe on social media.
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If you are a senior or the adult child of one, we hope you will stop back and visit the Life Protect 24/7 blog often. Every week we update it with new information on aging, safety, senior care, and caregiving. Bookmark it to make reconnecting easier!