How can seniors remain safe online? The Internet offers wonderful opportunities for learning new information, shopping, communicating with loved ones, reading, watching videos, and playing games. Today some excellent online resources promote healthy senior lifestyles. However, senior citizens and senior in-home care providers must always remember the importance of maintaining adequate Internet security to protect personal information. Use this list to help you stay safe as you browse the Internet through your PC, laptop, tablet or “smart” phone.
What Should I do?
- Safeguard Your Personal InformationEvery time you venture online, you potentially “brush shoulders” with strangers from around the world. The Internet crosses geographic boundaries. If someone scams you in your hometown, law enforcement stands a good chance of apprehending the con artist. Unfortunately, when you become the victim of online email fraud, the culprit may reside thousands of miles away in another nation where few police resources exist. You may never recover from online losses because no reliable mechanism enforces laws effectively against Internet scammers. For this reason, you must exercise caution whenever you furnish information about yourself (or your household members) online.
- Educate Yourself About Computers
Perhaps you or an aging parent happen to have access to computer education classes? Pursuing informational courses in this subject makes a lot of sense if you enjoy using the Internet. You’ll learn specific information about useful computer programs. Additionally, your instructor can demonstrate ways to remain safe online.
- Always Use an Antivirus Program
Today, most computers arrive pre-loaded with programs designed to protect the computer and its user from malicious software code called “viruses” and the activities of “hackers” (people who break into computers from a remote location without permission). Many reputable companies offer antivirus and anti-malware programs. Firms such as McAfee, Norton Security, Web Root, and others focus on developing sophisticated computer programs to scan customer computers. The scans will help discover and eliminate dangerous computer viruses. Never, ever go online without having a reliable antivirus program installed and activated on your computer! It makes sense to sign up to obtain automatic updates for this software, too. Hackers invent thousands of new viruses every week. You’ll want to keep your computer and its programs free from computer viruses in order to ensure these tools perform correctly. (For instance, you don’t want a computer virus redirecting your computer to not follow your commands.)
- Consider Using a Password Protection Program
Another online security tool can offer great assistance to seniors today. Several companies have developed programs which remember and update passwords. Using this type of software helps you “surf” the Internet without having to constantly re-enter a variety of different passwords at individual websites (although you do need to remember a single password to access the password protection security software). Today a number of Internet security software manufacturers supply this service to customers. It may allow older online visitors to enter websites more quickly and with less frustration caused by typing mistakes. Additionally, the software will update passwords at intervals to promote tighter security.
- Consider Retaining a Reputable Identity Protection Service
A number of companies offer identity protection surveillance services to help safeguard customers against potential online identity theft. Seniors who venture online benefit from using these types of services. They will provide an alert if someone else enters your social security number or personal information online without your permission. Unfortunately, this type of protection often proves expensive: shopping carefully for an identity protection service remains a wise idea.
- Important Senior Issues: Memory Loss & Dementia
While using the Internet offers many fun and rewarding activities for seniors, anyone who suffers from short-term memory losses or dementia should not use the Internet without direct supervised assistance from a care provider or other close friend who does not suffer from these issues. Why? Seniors with impaired memories or dementia problems may inadvertently place themselves in hazardous situations online. They might release personal information in an unsafe forum, overspend on shopping sites, or simply forget how to use the computer and grow frustrated and unhappy. Care providers and loved ones will want to supervise the online visits of impaired seniors in order to ensure they enjoy a positive, happy experience. Many ailing seniors benefit from this form of compassionate assisted living expertise.
- Consider Using Monitoring Software with The Senior’s Permission
How can households and senior in-home care providers determine when a senior with memory impairments would benefit from direct supervision in utilizing the Internet? With the permission of the senior and after consultation with the senior’s physician and/or attorney, they might consider installing a monitoring program to permit a review of the senior’s online activities. Originally intended to help parents safeguard the online activities of young people, these programs furnish a record of sites visited by a computer user. They also usually allow the blocking of inappropriate or dangerous websites. This type of information can help a caregiver ensure a senior does not suffer mistreatment online.
Keeping Safe Online
Access to the Internet opens many opportunities for seniors to enrich their daily lives. From making new friends to keeping in closer touch with loved ones, elderly people today expand and reinforce their social contacts via the digital world. Maintaining safety online helps promote these goals!