Older people have a lot of wisdom to offer, and they’ve seen a lot of changes and technological breakthroughs emerge over the decades, both good and bad. Prior generations didn’t grow up with the internet, however, which can make for some steep learning curves and vulnerabilities that put the elderly at a disadvantage online. Today, having access to the internet in the United States is almost essential. Older people who don’t know how to pay bills or make reservations online may have to pay extra fees or be unable to access some services altogether.
Many older people want to learn how to use technology, but often lack the help they need to navigate the functions of computers and phones and to learn how to protect their privacy while doing so. Here’s why older people often need help getting familiar with tech, and why it’s important that they get the support they need.
The Generation Gap Creates Online Technical Barriers
These days, there are 47.7 million Americans over the age of 65. When it comes to technology, many older people have a cell phone and computer, but there are generational barriers to using them. Millennials and members of Generation Z essentially grew up with technology, and many members of Generation X were young enough to become proficient in tech as it emerged.
For earlier generations, technical barriers emerge, even though most older Americans see the value in tech tools and want to use them. Because the technology emerged when these generations were well into adulthood, it is not built for their needs and can be difficult for elderly Americans to navigate and understand. 56% of seniors feel that they would need help to use social media sites.
Tips for Elderly Folks To Protect Their Online Security
Many scammers online target the elderly, because they tend to be unfamiliar with the tactics cybercriminals use to target devices and steal personal information. Seniors need to learn simple best practices for online security, such as creating strong passwords and not clicking on suspicious links sent through email. Installing anti-virus and firewall protection and asking for help to set up security settings are simple safeguards that can help prevent identity theft and viruses.
Seniors Can Always Get Tech Help and Support
There are many services and resources for the elderly through senior centers, assistance communities, and non-profits that can help older Americans learn tech and get the support they need. For seniors who want to learn how to use tech tools, free classes and other options are available all over the country. The library is also a great resource to get tech help and support. As with anything, a desire to learn is an important component, and seniors need to be willing to listen, practice, and expect the process to be a challenge at times.
Assist Older People in Advancing their Online and Data Security Skills
Younger generations can make a big difference in seniors’ lives by helping them to advance their online and data security skills. By helping seniors set up security safeguards and learn to use tools like social media and online reservation systems, young people can empower them to stay social and use all the resources available to them without being vulnerable to common cyberattacks.
If young people want to make a difference in the community and not just in their own grandparents’ lives, getting involved with a non-profit or senior center to offer tech help can be a huge contribution. Offer the help before seniors have to ask.
Respect and Patience Key in Educating Older Americans on Tech
Just as important as helping the elderly gain the skills they need to benefit from technology is treating them with patience and respect. People have pride and limitations, and may have difficulty admitting they need help, or it may take them some repetition to learn skills younger generations take for granted. Everyone wants to be respected, and it’s never a good feeling to realize skills don’t come easily to you. Having patience helps seniors maintain their dignity while allowing them to reap the benefits of joining the digital world.