Senior Citizens are Online too

Senior citizens are embracing the digital age in greater numbers every year.
  • 53 percent of adults ages 65 and older use the Internet and email.
  • Among those Internet users, 70 percent report going online daily. 
    • Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

The Internet helps senior citizens connect with society, bringing vital information and resources to them. For instance, they can bank and shop from the convenience of their homes. There are many sites geared toward the needs and interests of senior citizens, and growth of such sites is expected to continue. The Internet offers many benefits to older Americans, including the ability to better stay in touch with family members, near and far and across generations.

Risks

There are risks associated with being online, and, sadly, many scammers target senior citizens.

Be wary of the following types of emails, websites, or social media messages:

  • “Free” gifts, prizes or vacations, or exclaim, “You’re a winner!”
  • Discount prescription medications or other “can’t miss” deals.
  • Messages appearing to be from friends or family members, but the message is written in a style not usually used by that person, has numerous misspellings, or otherwise seems unusual. This is an indication your friend or family member’s account may have been hacked.
  • Messages appearing to be from official government agencies, such as Social Security Administration, or banks, requesting personal information.
  • Ultimatums such as “your account will be closed,” or “the deal will expire” to create a sense of urgency, and trick the victim into providing personal information. 

Cyberbullying of Senior Citizens

Cyberbullying affects senior citizens; including:

  • Emotional abuse with rage, threats, accusations, and belittling comments, often followed with periods of silence or ignoring the victim.
  • Financial abuse aimed at obtaining the victim’s account information, setting up online access to their accounts, and stealing their money.

Speaking out against cyberbullying can be particularly difficult for seniors who may not even know what the term means. As with victims of any age, seniors may feel violated and powerless, be confused and in denial over what’s happening, feel shame and self blame for being a victim, and fear even more bullying or being ignored if they speak out.  

What to do: STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

To protect against these online threats, there are several basic precautions all Internet users should take, regardless of age or experience online. The following tips are provided by STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the national online safety awareness campaign.

Keep a Clean Machine

  • Keep security software current and updated.
  • Ensure your wireless router requires a secure password. 

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Make passwords long, strong and unique. You have should have a different password for each online account, using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Think before you act. Be wary of requests to update or “confirm” your information.
  • Post with caution. Keep information such as birthdates and addresses confidential unless you are on a secure and reputable website.  
  • Own your online presence. Understand how privacy settings work on social networks and websites you frequent. Set them to your comfort level of sharing.

Connect with Care

  • Protect your money. When banking or shopping online, enter information only into security-enabled sites that begin with https://. The “s” means the data is encrypted in transit. Never enter bank or credit card information into a website that begins http://

Be Web Wise

  • When in doubt, throw it out. If you are instructed to click a link in a message you don’t trust, even if you know the sender, delete the message or mark it as junk mail.
  • Back it up. Store valuable work, photos, music and other information on a backup hard drive or online “cloud.”

Recognize Cyberbullying

  • If you think you, or someone you know, is a victim of cyberbullying, report it to the local law enforcement, or a local senior center for further advice and assistance.


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