Seniors and Tech: How to Get Comfortable with New Tools
While seniors have traditionally been among the last adopters of virtual technology, recent data shows they now see the value in these tools and platforms. As of 2021, 75 percent of adults ages 65 or older use the internet, 61 percent have a smartphone, 45 percent use social media, and 44 percent have a tablet computer, according to a Pew Research survey.
Much of this digital acceleration is a result of the global pandemic, says Sara Czaja, Ph.D., the director of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center on Aging and Behavioral Research. Seniors with reliable access and a comfortable relationship to the internet or mobile devices were able to communicate with their loved ones in quarantine, which helped to manage their loneliness, Dr. Czaja points out. However, technology can still feel complicated for some—and that’s okay!
If you are a senior adult, there’s no need to feel out of your league when it comes to virtual technology. All it takes are a few simple and accessible tech tips for seniors, like you, to increase your comfort level and embrace digital literacy. Here’s what to keep in mind as you learn how to navigate these new tools, platforms or devices:
Take a Free E-Learning Course on Internet Use
If you have access to the web but don’t feel comfortable surfing it, there are many instructional resources out there to teach you all the important basics you’ll need to know. One such website, GCFLearnFree.org, is a free e-learning platform from the Goodwill Community Foundation that offers user-friendly tutorials on numerous internet or technology-related topics.
Whether you want to learn how to join a Zoom meeting, search for a YouTube video, check your emails, create a Google Doc, access the cloud, operate a smartphone, or secure your personal online data, this website puts all kinds of valuable information at your fingertips. Sometimes all you need to boost confidence is some quick, easy and comprehensive coaching.
Tap Into Younger Generation’s Tech-Savvy Skills
Today’s high school and college students are known as digital natives, which means they’ve been proficient mobile internet users for most—if not all—of their lives. If you’re struggling to get comfortable with technology, just ask someone who barely remembers a world without it. You might be surprised how many tech tips for seniors a teenager can provide.
If you have grandchildren who live in the area, see if they’re willing to sit down with you for a couple of hours and teach some internet fundamentals. You can also contact the toll-free Cyber Seniors tech training hotline at 1-844-217-3057. This resource uses an intergenerational model of teenage or young adult volunteer operators, who are available to answer all of your questions and offer one-on-one technical support, either online or over the phone.
Focus on Safety First
Senior adults are some of the most vulnerable targets for identity theft or other internet scams. In fact, the FBI estimates that over $3 billion in losses occur each year as a result of elder fraud in the United States. In order to protect your own sensitive information online, it’s not enough just to be able to use technology—as this data shows, you must also learn how to operate it safely. Here are a few cybersecurity precautions you’ll want to take:
- Create strong, encrypted passwords with at least 12 characters and a mix of letters, numbers, or symbols. This will make it difficult for hackers to guess.
- Ask for help installing a robust firewall security and malware protection software on your computer. This will protect you from viruses, phishing, and other breaches.
- Use a two-step username and password authentication to secure login information on all your accounts. This includes email, social media, electronic banking, and more.
- Use a passcode to lock your computer or mobile devices in case you lose them. This will prevent anyone who locates the device from accessing what is on it.
- Contact your bank or credit card provider if a suspicious or unauthorized transaction is posted on your online statement, then freeze the card immediately.
- Report any suspected case of fraud on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s website IdentityTheft.gov. This will help you create a personal recovery plan.
The Lodge Makes It Easy to Incorporate Tech in Your Life
At The Lodge, we harness the latest technology to enhance residents’ wellness and quality of life—in fact, it will be built into the core infrastructure of our whole community. Our future campus will have minimal contact entry points to automated temperature scanners, to Energy Star electronics, we’re all about digital technology to optimize health and sustainability.
Whatever your personal tech goals are—to confidently surf the internet, connect with your loved ones on social media, or simply feel comfortable using the virtual tools we offer at The Lodge—these tech tips for seniors will make digital literacy much more accessible.