By: Emma Pizzuti
The digital age has revolutionized the way we connect, learn, and access information. For older adults, the internet can be a valuable tool for staying connected with loved ones, engaging in hobbies, and exploring new interests. However, with access to the online world comes potential risks and challenges, especially for older adults who may be less familiar with technology.
Despite the challenges that may arise, empowering the older adults in our lives to confidently navigate the digital landscape securely is entirely achievable. By taking proactive measures and offering support, we can ensure that they stay safe online.
Educate on Online Scams:
One of the most significant risks for older adults online is falling victim to scams and fraudulent schemes. Educate the older adults in your life about common online scams, such as phishing emails, fake tech support calls, and social media scams. Remind them to never share personal information, passwords, or financial details with unknown individuals or on unsecured websites. Encourage them to be skeptical of unsolicited messages or offers that seem too good to be true.
Strengthen Password Practices:
Assist older adults in creating strong and unique passwords for their online accounts. Passwords should be a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, avoiding easily guessable information like birthdates or names. Encourage the use of password managers to securely store and manage passwords for various accounts, reducing the risk of forgotten passwords or reusing weak ones.
Keep Software and Devices Up-to-Date:
Ensure that older adults are using up-to-date software and operating systems on their devices. Regular updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure their devices are consistently protected.
Enable Multifactor or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
Introduce the concept of multifactor authentication to add an extra layer of security to their online accounts. With 2FA, users must provide a second form of verification, such as a one-time code sent to their mobile phone, in addition to their password. This makes it significantly harder for unauthorized users to access their accounts.
Set Privacy Settings on Social Media:
Guide older adults on adjusting privacy settings on social media platforms to control who can see their posts and personal information. Encourage them to limit the audience to trusted friends and family members, and advise against sharing sensitive details publicly.
Be Cautious with Clicks:
Teach seniors to be cautious when clicking on links, especially in emails or messages from unknown sources. Hovering the mouse pointer over a link can reveal its true destination without actually clicking on it. If in doubt, advise them to contact the sender directly to verify the authenticity of the message. Promote safety by advising them to never click on links from individuals they haven't met in real life. You can check individual links’ safety here.
Use Parental Controls and Security Software:
Implement parental control features and security software, such as antivirus software, on their devices to block malicious content and protect against malware. These tools can add an extra layer of security, particularly if the older adult is less experienced with recognizing potential threats.
By educating seniors about online risks, guiding them through security measures, and promoting safe online practices, we can empower them to confidently navigate the digital landscape and enjoy all the benefits the internet has to offer. With vigilance, education, and support, we can ensure that the older adults in our lives remain safe, secure, and connected in the digital age.