Internet safety for seniors is much the same as internet safety for anyone else. They need to be educated about how to handle threats, how to safely use social media, and how to keep their software up to date—especially antivirus programs.
Educate Seniors about Basic Online Safety
Online safety starts with education. Seniors face the same malware and phishing attacks as everyone else, but may be more vulnerable simply because they may have less experience navigating technology. Take time to talk to your grandparents about online safety. Explain that not everything online can be trusted and that they should never give out personal information like credit card numbers to strangers online.
Explain Online Scams
Online scams can be particularly dangerous to people who aren’t experienced in spotting them. Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams to look out for. Here are some of the most common:
Offers of free gifts and prizes
Offers of discounted prescription medications
Requests that claim to be from government agencies like the Social Security Administration that ask for personal info
Educate your loved ones about these scams and explain that if there is any doubt, they should ignore the email or message and let someone know about it right away.
Teach Safe Social Media Use
How seniors use the internet is changing. Grandparents are taking to social media in increasing numbers to keep up with friends and family. While this is great for relieving the social isolation that many experience as they age, it also means they need to be educated on safe social media use. Here are a few principles to go over with your grandparents.
Using proper security settings on sites like Facebook
Avoiding posting personal information like phone numbers and addresses
Making sure they know who someone is before accepting friend requests
Set Up Their Computers with Antivirus Software
Install antivirus software on your grandparents’ computer, and show them how to keep it up to date. This can help protect against the occasional lapse of judgment that we all experience from time to time and is well worth the investment.
You may also want to show your grandparents a few online health and security websites. Check out our safety resource guide to get an idea of which ones to start with.