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Online Safety For Seniors: 5 Tips For Older Adults Using The Internet

Online Safety for Seniors: 5 Tips for Older Adults Using the Internet

Though, in these modern times, the internet may seem like an exclusive luxury for younger generations, that simply isn’t the case. The more pervasive online tools and resources become, the more frequently they are used amongst older adults, with more seniors entering online spaces than ever before.

However, many struggle to navigate these areas safely, and everything from money scams to privacy breaches can put them at risk while online. With that in mind, below are some valuable tips with which seniors can stay safe online.

  1. Learn What the Red Flags Are
  2. Consult With Friends or Family
  3. Delete Suspicious Links or Messages
  4. Create Unique Passwords
  5. Use Social Media With Caution

1. Learn What the Red Flags Are

The first step in staying safe online is learning what red flags are in terms of internet scams. There are countless individuals with nefarious intentions looking to take advantage of the increasing number of older adults online, and many of them follow similar attack patterns. 

As such, it is vital to stay cautious of strangers who are overly friendly and eager to get to know you over social media. If someone you don’t recognize starts messaging you and making very detailed conversations or asking you excessive questions, they could be fishing for your private information in order to hack into your accounts. The safest thing to do is delete the messages and block these individuals instead of engaging with them.

Another red flag is anything that seems too good to be true. A lot of seniors fall victim to online scams that promise big money or extravagant rewards, including internet gambling or online games. If a website asks for your bank information or requires credit card details, you should confirm that it is a reputable and verified website first before sharing any sensitive payment information.

2. Consult With Friends or Family

It is not uncommon for older adults to misunderstand or experience confusion when faced with something new online. When you encounter something unexpected or something that seems strange, it helps to consult with someone who is more well-versed in the internet.

Say, for instance, that someone messages you online asking for donations for a sick family member. If you do not recognize the person and something feels off, you may ask your child or grandchild to take a look at the message for you. They may be able to identify signs of phishing or links to scam websites, preventing you from giving money to a scammer.

3. Delete Suspicious Links or Messages

In the event that someone sends you an unfamiliar link in an email or text message, you need to know what to do. Some older adults would click on the link, unknowingly giving malicious actors access to all of their private information, social media accounts, and more; others know to approach strange links with caution. 

Anytime you receive a link to a site you do not know about, you should look into its authenticity in advance. If it appears fake or suspect, delete the entire message in which it was sent.

4. Create Unique Passwords

One of the most important tips for staying safe on the internet is protecting your online presence. Whether it be a social media account or an account with an online retailer, all of your internet profiles should have strong passwords. 

Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in all of your passwords, and try not to repeat the same password on too many sites. All it takes is for one person to figure it out, and they’ll then have access to all of your accounts at once.

Another tip regarding passwords is to only share them with one person you can trust, perhaps a close friend or family member. In doing so, if something happens to you, there is at least one trustworthy individual who can get into your accounts and shut them down before anyone else gains access to them.

5. Use Social Media With Caution

Social media can be a fun place to interact and get in touch with friends you haven’t seen in a long time, along with sharing aspects of their lives, such as photos from trips and funny stories from their day. 

While that can be a great way to share your life with friends and family who live far away, you run the risk of sharing too much with the wrong people. Whether they’re internet scammers or people with personal vendettas, those with bad intentions can use social media to compile information about your schedule, whereabouts, finances, and more. 

Older adults using social media should exercise caution regarding how much they share and who they share it with. You should have all of your profiles set to private so that you can screen who sees your posts, and before posting photos, take a good look at them to see if any personal information may be in the background. 

Maintaining Your Safety Online as a Senior

The internet is a vast world of information that can help you make new connections and gain more knowledge on any number of topics, but it can also be a dangerous place where insidious people take advantage of the most vulnerable, especially older adults. 

From learning the red flags to creating unique passwords, there are several ways to protect yourself when navigating online spaces. When you have these tips under your belt, you can enjoy your time online with more peace of mind.

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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