6 Top Tech Tips to Keep Seniors Connected and Safe

May 25, 2024
tech tip for seniors

Staying connected is essential to aging well, but it can also be a daunting undertaking for seniors who aren’t tech-savvy. Smartphones, Zoom calls, passwords, scams and identity thieves, and just a lack of knowledge can conspire to make using technology to stay connected seem downright frightening. To help stay connected and safe take these tips from tech experts.

Top tech tip #1: Manage passwords carefully

The first line of defense when using online technologies is the password, or more likely the passwords used to gain access to online accounts. From banking to mortgages to membership sites having sound passwords is mandatory. According to the aarp.org article, “5 Ways to Build Better Passwords,” there are several ways to choose and store passwords that strengthen safety and accessibility.

First do not use familiar words, dates, names and numbers like grandkid’s names, birthdates, or the extremely common password 123456. Instead use a random series of numerals, letters, punctuation marks and signs. It’s also important to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and to make each password longer than it has to be (unless there is a size limit) by using a phrase.

Top tech tip #2: Beware of unsafe websites

Another simple tech tip is to be aware of websites that are not safe. This is especially important for websites that require or store personal information like financial institutions, health care providers, Social Security, and Medicare. The easiest way to check is to check the web address which should be https:// not just http://. The “s” on the end signifies the website is encrypted so information is safe and secure. If there is any doubt about a website’s integrity, use Google’s website checker to make sure it’s safe before entering.

Top tech Tip #3: Understand your technology

Whether using a smartphone, computer or other device knowing how to use it correctly is key. Although many seniors depend on kids or grandkids to educate them, another way to learn is to watch videos like those on the seniorplanet.org “Tech Tip Video Tutorials” website. These diverse videos include Android and iPhone use, creating social media accounts, uploading and using apps, connecting Wi-Fi, and the ins and outs of Zoom meetings. Also included is information about the Senior Planet Community from AARP where users can join interest groups and discussions, and enjoy socializing with peers.

Top tech tip #4: Shop safely online

Shopping online is no longer a novelty but a normal part of daily life. It is also a common way for scammers and counterfeiters to get access to senior’s money and information. To avoid getting stung, always shop on secure websites (https://) and use a credit card rather than direct payment from an account so you can report and dispute a charge which will often be removed from the account. For more ways to shop safely online check out the consumerftc.gov article, “Online Shopping.”

Top tech Tip #5: Install security software

In years gone by the biggest worry for computer users was avoiding a virus infection. Today, however, the threats include cybercrime, ransomware, malware, third-party monitoring, and more. As a result, it is important to choose a security software that meets multiple needs. According to the techradar.com article, “How to choose the best antivirus for you,” there are several factors to consider from cost to level of protection to the user’s level of expertise. For a look at how top software programs compare, the techradar.com article, “The best antivirus software in 2024 for PC,” looks at a wide variety of options.

Top tech tip #6: Learn to spot scams

Online scams have never been more prevalent and there is no end in sight. Rather than avoiding online connections to stay safe, learn to recognize scams instead. First and foremost it’s important to realize that scammers are pros and have honed their craft to be successful. And they are very successful! According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, elder online fraud increased 14% in 2023 amounting to a cumulative loss of $3.4 billion for people age 60 and older.

In many cases, however, there are clear signs of a scam. As noted in the consumerftc.gov article, “Sure ways to spot a scammer” these red flags include inciting panic and fear and making threats so the subject moves quickly and does not question the scammer or trust anyone else. For a look at current scams the FBI article, “Elder Fraud, in Focus,” spells them out.

Another tech-free way to stay safe and connected is to join a senior living community like Ganton’s Countryside. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.


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