Tips to Help You Stay Connected to the Ones You Love
More and more seniors are adopting technology into their day-to-day lives to connect with friends, family, and the digital world around them. From learning how to use computers, write emails, use social media, do online searches, and use their new smartphones, technology has quickly taken over, and it may seem overwhelming at first, but it brings us closer to the ones we love.
Learning new technology can be daunting for anyone. That’s why we’ve built this guide to offer tips for helping seniors learn new technology, stay safe online, communicate effectively with their loved ones, and use standard systems and devices confidently.
Statistics of Seniors and Technology
More seniors are using technology today than they were 15 years ago. The number of seniors who use smartphones, tablets, high-speed internet, and social media has increased significantly, especially among younger seniors and those with higher educations and household incomes, according to these senior citizens and technology statistics.
How Technology Can Be Applied in Your Day-To-Day
There’s no denying that technology makes life a whole lot easier. Once learned and understood, you can enjoy:
- Communication – Using emails, text messaging, online messaging, video calls, and social media to stay in touch with friends and family in real time—no more waiting for snail mail to arrive;
- Constant Knowledge – The wealth of information on the Internet that can help you navigate the world. From news, entertainment, and online shopping, to research and to learn new skills, there is nothing you can’t find online;
- Online Banking – This makes paying bills, sending money, and managing your finances easy and straighforward;
- Online Storage – Easily store photos, videos, and other important documents, so you never have to worry about losing the important things. Plus, it makes file sharing much easier, so you can receive and save hundreds if not thousands of photos and videos of your kids and grandkids;
- Online Healthcare – More healthcare providers allow their patients to access and submit health information online, such as test results, health monitoring, and scheduling appointments; and,
- Community Engagement – Event postings and group discussions are easily accessible online and on social media.
Determining What Device Is Best For You and Your Needs
How are your current tech skills? Are you able to use a computer? Or would you feel more comfortable with a touchscreen on a tablet? Due to their touchscreens, size, light-weight features, and portability, tablets are some of the best technology for seniors.
Tips for Setting Up Your Device
Follow the device instructions for setup or enlist the help of someone who knows how to set up the device. You can also always call the support helpline and get a live agent to assist.
As you are signing up for accounts, set up automatic logins whenever safe. And bookmark the websites you will frequently visit.
Testing It Out For Yourself—Learning Through Trial and Error
Once you’ve had a tutorial or two on using your device, test it out yourself! As with all things, you will learn how to use it through trial and error.
What Seniors Need to Know When It Comes to Technology
Strong Passwords Are Crucial
When you’re signing up for new accounts online, choose strong passwords that no one else would be able to guess. These passwords should have a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Ideally, you will use a password with a word or a few words that make up a phrase.
Save your passwords in a protected, secure list that you can easily find if you forget any of your passwords. Never share your passwords online, via email, social media, or on any websites you don’t recognize.
Set Up Two-Step Authentication
When signing up for accounts online, you may be prompted to set up two-step authentication. This verification method is worth setting up since it adds another layer of security for accessing your accounts. It could be a code sent to your smartphone via text or security questions and answers you choose.
Guard Your Personal Information
Think twice before you download something or give out your personal information online, such as passwords and credit card numbers. This tip is especially important when you don’t know where the request is coming from or why.
Don’t Trust Everything – Be Wary Of Unrealistic Offers, Expect Spam and Scams
Cybercriminals will send phishing emails with alluring offers or threats of owing money (like to the CRA) in an attempt to steal personal information and your money. So don’t open emails from people you don’t know and be wary of scams. Other scams include prompts to download security or antivirus software. If you don’t know why this is popping up, then don’t click on it.
Install Reputable Security Software
Install and run reputable antivirus software on your computer to prevent malicious attacks from hackers and viruses. You can find free software available by doing a Google search for antivirus software. Be sure to do your research and read reviews. You can also ask a friend or family member for recommendations.
Use Privacy Settings for Social Media
Adjust the privacy settings on your social media accounts so you can control who sees your profile, posts, photos, friends lists, and information. The default settings might make your profile visible to everyone, including strangers.
You might even have friends on social media who you don’t want seeing all of your posts. So be sure to change your privacy settings both on your account and on your posts.
Never Post Personal Information on Social Media
Like in public places, through emails, and on other places online, you should never share your personal information on social media. This information includes your phone number, address, and social insurance number.
The same goes for sharing personal information about other people as well. Don’t share any personal information about others online unless you have their consent. With just these few pieces of information shared with the wrong person, you can become a victim of identity theft.
Think Before Opening Attachments
Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails from senders you don’t know. These links and attachments can have viruses that will infect your computer and put you at risk of losing sensitive information, like banking information and personal information that can lead to identity theft.
When using the internet, always exercise caution with unknown things that appear suspicious to you.
Technology Tips for Seniors
Here are some useful tips for teaching seniors technology basics:
Reading Better on Smartphones and Tablets (How to Change the Font Size)
You can adjust the font size on your smartphone, tablet, and even your computer if you find you’re having trouble reading on these devices. Click on Settings, then Display, then Font Size or Settings>Display & Brightness>Text Size if using an iPhone. And then choose a font size you can comfortably read with, from small to huge.
And if you find your screen hard to see, change it to “easy mode” to make it more visually accessible.
Experiment with Different Ring Tones
Test out the different ring tones and notification sounds on your phone to find ones you’ll always hear, so you never miss a call or message.
Ways to Stay Connected With Family And Friends
Following Online Etiquette
When writing online, on social media, or in texts, keep in mind the following etiquette rules:
Writing in all CAPITAL LETTERS is interpreted as shouting, so turn off your CAPS LOCK if you don’t want to come across as aggressive.
Emojis and other symbols may have alternative hidden meanings you are unaware of, so do your research if you plan to start using certain emojis.
Technology to Stay Connected
Along with staying in touch on Facebook and Twitter, you can have video chats with friends and family via Skype, Facetime, and Messenger.
You can also use Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, text messages, and phone calls on your smartphone to stay in touch.
Google Is Your Friend – Google How to Do Something If You Can’t Figure It Out
You can search for anything on Google and find safe, useful, and relevant links to websites and answers to your questions. So if you want to learn how to do something or find a person, company, service, or event online, do a Google search.
You can even search: “How can technology help senior citizens?” to find even more useful ways that technology can help you in your day-to-day life.
While learning new technology may be daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be glad you have access to the digital world and your loved ones at your fingertips.