The internet – a definition on its own of the modern era. It’s like a rushing river that only gets faster and faster, in total control of life around us. It can be daunting to even fathom how it all works and that feeling is why most elderly people in the UK stay away from it all together.
The internet is considered a game for the ‘younger generations’ and because of this stigma it has become an obstacle for the ‘older generation’ to open up to being computer literate. Keeping with the times isn’t very high on a lot of our lists of things to do and feeling secure online can be an unnecessary worry.
More and more people every day are using the internet through computers, smartphones and tablets. With this in mind, here is our internet safety guide for the elderly, we hope this helps you to understand how the internet works and how to remain safe online.
The Office of National Statistics have compiled in depth research on the status of the elderly population in the UK who are online:
• Since 2006, people aged over 65 using a computer has increased from less than 10% to over 40%.
• The statistics show that 53% of non-users choose not to go online because they believe it’s not useful or relevant to them. Compared with the 32% who said it was a lack of skill stopping them, 23% citing cost, and just 1% blaming lack of access or availability.
• Women aged 75 and over, had seen the largest rise in recent internet use, up 169.0% from 2011; however, still less than a third (32.6%) were recent users in 2016.
• Recent internet use in the 65 to 74 age group has increased by 68.7% since 2011. Since 2015, there has been an increase of 7.5% in the same age group.
It is difficult to come to terms with a technology that a lot of elderly individuals did not grow up with and an obstacle alone is learning how to use the gadgets that support the technology and then learn how to navigate the internet and use such things like Facebook or Skype. It can all seem very discouraging but here we will go through ways to not only protect yourself online but also tips and tricks to help encourage you to take the leap.
Internet Safety Guide – Protect Yourself Online
The internet is embedded with so many positive aspects that it is easy to get lost in it all forgetting that there are things that you need to avoid. Here is a list of things to keep in mind:
Keeping safe with emails
‘Phishing’ is a common scam that criminals use by sending phoney emails to thousands of people in an attempt to get your personal information. The emails look legitimate, as if your own bank or credit card company have sent them to you.
Phishing emails vary making it hard to identify them and fraudsters are always changing their ways trying to catch you out. phishing emails can seem to be from your ‘Bank’ asking you to update your account, an email saying you have won lottery or competition, emails containing links or documents attached to them and sometimes they can even be emails you think are from your friends or someone you know asking for money because they are in trouble or stranded.
Thankfully there are ways to recognise if an email is a phishing scam:
• The sender’s email address may look official but it will be different to your bank’s or credit card company’s email address. Always check with your bank if you are unsure what email address they use or if they have sent the email. Banks and financial institutions never ask for personal information via email and a good trick to check if it is your bank is by copying the link address in to your search bar – do not click on the link- and see where it leads.
• The email doesn’t use your actual name and instead address it to ‘Dear Customer’.
• The email requests your personal information, such as username, passwords, bank details and date of birth.
• The email will contain threatening messages if you don’t act immediately and your account will be closed.
• There may also contain links or documents with a short message or text saying, ‘Check this out’ without an explanation.
Most email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo have spam filters that block unwanted emails but If you do find that you have received any such emails contact ActionFraud, the UK’s fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, (0300 123 2040).
This can happen when fraudsters contact you over the telephone, claiming to be from well-known IT firms with the aim to get you to upload spyware or viruses on to your computer. If they do so they will be able to access any personal information you have stored on your computer. Remember to never respond to a call like this as reputable IT companies never contact customers this way so hang up straight away.
So many websites have accounts that you have to access using a password as it is the most common way to prove your identity online. It’s always important to have strong passwords that are hard for anyone to guess, which include a combination of capital letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords like 12345678, Password123, yourname1956 or your birthday will only result in your accounts being easy to hack.
It is also worth noting to use a different password for different websites as one password being used is a high security risk, and if you do write them down you need to keep that information away from your computer and in an unmarked notebook. For useful tips on how to create a strong password, visit Microsoft.
The internet has revolutionised shopping. People can sit in the comfort of their home, sipping on a cup of tea, and with a few clicks they can get their week’s shopping, the latest gadgets, DVD’s and even flowers delivered right to their doorstep without even having to leave the house.
It’s a quick and convenient, with the best deals often appearing online – making it a useful way to manage your money. Remember to use a secure website when entering your card information, ensuring that the information cannot be seen by anyone else. It is a good idea to use a credit card for internet transactions as the card is protected by your credit card company and they are equally responsible if things go wrong but you can check with your bank if your debit card has any protection on it.
Here are Lifeline24’s tips on securely shopping online:
• You will never be asked to enter your pin number online so beware if that comes up as this will indicate the payment isn’t secure.
• Use a strong password
• Use online retailers that have a strong reputation such as House of Fraser, John Lewis, Zatu Games and M&S.
• It is good to check and see where the seller is located instead of assuming that they are UK-based. If you do buy from a seller outside of the UK/EU it can be hard to enforce your rights or laws if something goes wrong.
• If you have finished using a secure site always make sure you log out so that if anyone uses your computer after you they can’t access your information.
It is no surprise that the existence of social media has defined the younger generation and with that is the exclusive idea that these domains are only for them. However, in recent times the elderly have become proficient in their internet abilities and it has spread like wildfire and become the fastest growth of any demographic group.
Social media has given the elderly a means to bridge that geographical gap between themselves and their friends and loved ones. The tools of social media have allowed the elderly to re-connect with friends that time has unfortunately aided in them drifting apart from and it has also given help in reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation. As the population ages, with more people staying closer to home, social media and technology has become an interconnecting bridge for the elderly to the outside world and hence narrowing that feeling of loneliness within the elderly.
The likes of Facebook and Skype are among the favourites becoming a hub of for the elderly to not only stay in contact and a way to keep up to date with news and the going-on of the world aided by another social media outlet, Twitter.
Did you know:
• That of the over 65’s on social media grew more than 50% in 2015 (ONS).
• The proportion of 55 to 65 years’ olds using social media has also passed the 50 percent mark.
• One in five over 65’s using social media have uploaded their own videos and pictures.
• Did you know that the elderly who are online are nicknamed Silver-surfers?
Lifeline’s Guide to becoming a Silver-Surfer
The internet is the modern world’s driving force, being such a powerful tool in many aspects and one that we urge the elderly to get involved with. It is full of information, convenience and accessibility that can give you so much power at your fingertips by simply putting aside your fears and take the first step- always remembering to be cautious.
Going online doesn’t mean that you need to have the latest technology and gadgets, it is very simple with most modern devices having the ability to go online. To get online you will need to be able to access the internet and to do this you will need to have internet in your home or on your smart phone. The cost for this can vary so it is a good idea to shop around and find your best deal, uSwitch is a great website to compare deals and find the best one for you.
When you do connect with an internet service provider they will give you all the equipment needed to connect your devices to the world-wide-web. Modern technology has made using the internet very accessible so with most internet routers you will get a Wi-Fi service built in and most devices having a Wi-Fi receiver built in to them too. Wi-Fi is a wireless signal that allows you to connect anywhere within the range of your internet router without having to plug your device in with an inconvenient cable.
How Does This Work?
Once you have all the equipment, an internet service provider and a device, it is time to learn how it all works. The great thing is that there are a lot of resources at your disposal to learn about the internet that are specialised at providing everything you need to know with straightforward training and jargon-free. Online Centres Network has information about community based courses in a local venue and you can visit BBC’s Webwise that has articles and videos you can watch about using the internet and great information regarding all aspects relating to it. You can also use getting online an excuse to getting the grandchildren round to show you how it all works.
One of the first things to do is set up an email account. Emails are an effective and fast way to send messages between family and friends, no matter where they are in the world, and you can also receive newsletters, articles and information about things you are interested in. An email address is also important to have as this is now a primary way of correspondence that companies use to send bills, invoices, information and their latest deals. You will also need an email account to register on social media avenues like Facebook. There are many free email service providers to choose from, such as Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail and Yahoo.
The internet is an infinity of information and It is impossible to keep track of every website there is, however, there is an effective and accurate way to find what you are looking for… Search Engines. A search engine is a system, a web page, designed to search for information throughout the internet. The search results are generally presented to you in a line of results sorted by relevance that can be a mix web pages, images and videos. By far the most common search engine is Google but they are others, Yahoo and Bing are examples.
A few tips for using a search engine:
1. Type 2 or more words when searching, as this will allow for more specific results. For example, ‘How to use my Pendant Alarm’
2. Use (“…”) when you are searching for a phrase to maximise your search. For example, “Cheap holidays”.
3. Sponsored links from companies and organisations will sometimes appear at the top of your searches and they are clearly marked to show this to you.
4. Always use a trusted site, such as Lifeline24, NHS and SKY News.
It takes a simple yes and you’re on your way
The internet may be an unexplored vast wilderness to many elderly people but it takes just a small step and you’re on your way to accessing information, friends you haven’t heard from in years, speaking to family on the other side of the world and keeping up to date on all the worldly news.
The internet can bridge the gap of loneliness to interconnecting with family and friends and keeping you busy through the day and night. So, now you can sit in your favourite chair while catching up with your granddaughter as she travels through the world, send a message to an old childhood friend or check on the latest polls for the elections all by saying yes to the internet.