Computer and Online Safety Tips For Seniors

There’s no doubt that technology and the use of personal computers has advanced over the past two decades. We use computers at work, as a study tool, and even to book holidays, however, there’s a portion of the population who is often excluded — seniors.

Even though your 85-year old mom may not be online, it was reported that 27 percent of Canadians over the age of 75 were using the Internet in 2012. In just 12 years, this percentage rose from a mere 5 percent. More and more Canadian seniors want to stay connected and utilize the plethora of information that’s at their fingertips.

Seniors and Computer Use

The senior population is living longer than ever before, which is changing the meaning of retirement. Many seniors are now viewing their retirement as a time to try new things and increase their level of knowledge – remember, it’s never too late to learn.

For seniors, there are so many ways to benefit from computer use and safe online browsing. From staying in touch with family to researching information, there are plenty of ways for elderly individuals to benefit. For many, staying connected supports their independence. Not only do seniors benefit, but their family members as well.

Communication increases, strengthening peace of mind and positive health. Of course, computers and the Internet offer entertainment value and support, however, they may also improve cognition and mood. Within one study, it was found that when individuals between the ages of 55 and 78 used the Internet, areas of the brain responsible for decision-making and memory became more active.

As mentioned, this connectivity can also reduce isolation, boosting positive mood. Within another study, seniors who used the Internet for social networking and email purposes, reduced the rate of depression by 20 percent. Since mental health is so closely linked to physical health, this is an easy and practical way to improve one’s well-being.

Although there are plenty of benefits and access to beneficial programs should increase, there are some concerns that should be highlighted as well. If you or your loved one are using the Internet and lack experience or awareness, it’s important to discuss the possible dangers associated with online use.

Unfortunately, seniors are often easy targets when it comes to scams. It’s estimated that the elderly population is defrauded twice as often as the rest of the population. Here are a few online safety tips to review regarding the vulnerability of seniors:

  • Do not provide any personal information to people you do not know – that includes your birthday, email address, social security number, phone number, or anything else that is considered personal. There are plenty of scams and once individuals have access to this sensitive information, they can often access bank records and other private data.
  • Be aware of ‘free’ gifts, such as vacations – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. These scams often ask people to put in their credit card information for security purposes, only to steal money or one’s identity.
  • Sometimes you’re your own worst enemy – placing your own health at risk. Although there are plenty of reliable sources online regarding positive health, not everything you read on the Internet is factual information. Do not use the Internet to diagnose yourself in terms of worrisome symptoms. Always seek professional medical attention and rely on credible, up-to-date sites when sourcing your information.

If you would like to increase your online presence or encourage your loved one to do so, it’s important to review all safety concerns. For more information, please visit Get Cyber Safe, offered by the Government of Canada.

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