Navigating Internet Safety with Your Senior

Senior couple using the internet

The internet is everywhere and a big part of life for everyone. Navigating potential dangers can be pretty easy if you ensure you are participating in good internet safety practices.

However, for our senior loved ones, the internet might be a place that confuses and overwhelms them. Ensuring you are there to reassure them that they are safe to navigate this unknown can go a long way toward keeping your loved one safe.

Staying Safe In A Plugged-In World

So, what exactly does internet safety look like today? To put it simply, it’s being aware of your habits and your information to ensure they aren’t compromised by hackers or scammers.

Seniors are the typical target for those looking to cause harm because they are generally more trusting. Maintaining awareness without scaring them is a delicate balance and one that can easily be obtained.

In this blog, we will help you navigate internet safety for seniors, from the basics to scams to staying safe on social media.

Remember Security Basics

No matter what your senior is using the internet for, there are some basic rules to be aware of to keep them safe. From the time they log in to the time they close out, seniors should always be aware of these tips.

Create Strong Passwords

The first step toward ensuring your loved one’s safety on the internet is in how they log in. Whether you are concerned about their social media safety or just general online account safety, having a strong password can make a significant difference.

Passwords that are easy to guess, such as Password1 or any combination of sequential letters and numbers, are not advised. These can be easily hacked by people who wish to steal your senior’s identity.

The best practice for passwords is choosing a phrase embedded with numbers that are easy for your loved one to remember. A basic example could be Red23GreenBlue. This type of password takes a couple of easy-to-remember but unrelated words and adds a few numbers for good measure.

Pay attention to the password requirements for each website your loved one is creating a login for, and use this best practice to meet those requirements. Also, be sure that your senior isn’t using the same password for every account they have on the internet.

Don’t Share Passwords/Login Information

While it might be easy to want to step in and log in for your senior, if they are cognitively capable of doing it, they should. This will help them remember that they shouldn’t share their passwords or logins with anyone.

If they get in the habit of thinking it is safe to share their login information with their loved ones or their in-home caregiver, they are likely to trust someone on the internet with that information as well. It’s good practice to encourage them to remember their own passwords and keep them safe from being stolen.

Knowing a senior’s login information just makes a hacker or scammer’s job easier. Stolen identity happens when individuals trust someone they shouldn’t with information that shouldn’t be shared.

Don’t Share Basic Information Freely

When on social media or other websites, don’t give more information than is securely asked for. Once your account has been created, no more information, such as the names of your children, spouse, or siblings or the name of the town you live in or grew up in, should be shared.

If someone approaches your loved one asking them for this information, teach them to be wary of such requests.

Only Use Reputable Sites

Avoiding websites that aren’t reputable or secure is another way to increase your senior’s safety on the internet. An easy way to see if a website is secure is by looking at the URL. If it doesn’t have an s after the http, then the website isn’t secure.

Another way to be sure is to review a website with your senior to see if everything seems good. If the website doesn’t seem well put together or doesn’t have much information on it, chances are things aren’t secure.

The best bet for your senior is for them only to visit websites they know or recognize. When shopping, stick to the big ones, such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and brand-centered websites. For making appointments or banking, be sure the links you use are directly given to you by that institution.

Make a Habit of Keeping Track of Your Financials

Speaking of banking, it’s also a good habit to keep track of your online financials. This allows your senior to be on top of the money in their account.

Often, hackers use insecure websites to gain access to financial information. Therefore, assisting your senior with all their online purchases and maintaining their online financials will ensure their identity is never stolen.

By checking their accounts regularly, they are likely to catch fraudulent charges. The quicker they report them, the more secure their financial accounts will be. That way, their accounts can be locked up and their finances secured.

Look Out For Scams

Use Credit Cards More Than Debit Cards

Most peoples’ first instinct when making purchases is to pull out their bank cards, however, the best practice when making online purchases is to use a credit card instead.

This ensures that all purchases you make are secure. If your purchase is, in fact, a scam, your financial information won’t be compromised.

Research Organizations and Shops Before Making Donations or Purchases

To prevent your loved one’s financial information from being compromised, a best practice would be to do your research. By knowing who they are sending money to or purchasing from, your loved one is less likely to be scammed out of their hard-earned money.

It’s hard to know who everyone is these days, but the great thing about the internet is that there is always a way to find out whether or not a person or business is who they say they are.

This practice also applies to people who send requests for money via private messaging on social media sites and email. If your loved one doesn’t know who they are sending the money to, the best practice is not to send it.

Social Media Safety

Don’t Post Everything On Social Media

As social media becomes a bigger part of everyone’s lives, many older generations feel as though they should be using it as a newsletter of sorts for their friends and family. However, that isn’t always the safest way to approach posting to the general public.

While giving little life updates is perfectly fine and often encouraged on sites such as Facebook and Instagram, your senior needs to be aware that there is a limit to what information they should post. Not everything you do or see should be posted online.

It’s an internet safety rule because these snippets of information could make it easier for a senior to have their identity stolen.

Use Privacy Settings

The biggest rule of thumb for navigating social media safety is to make great use of the available privacy settings. Websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and X—formerly known as Twitter—have extensive options, allowing users to limit who sees their posts and can comment on them.

It’s important that you go through these settings with your senior loved one and help guide them to make the most protected options for their social media profiles. This gives them control over their information and allows them a bit more freedom on what they can safely post about.

Report Any Abusive Behavior You Encounter

One final bit of advice might seem like a no-brainer, but it is actually a problem that often goes overlooked. Monitor your loved one’s social media usage to ensure they are aware when they are possibly being abused or bullied, and guide them to report it.

Just like with physical elder abuse, social media bullying and abuse can often be tolerated by your loved one because they don’t want to cause any more trouble. This is why people on social media will target seniors from time to time and take advantage of them.

Basic awareness is all you need to prevent and protect your loved one from such incidents. There isn’t a need to make your senior feel terrified of being on social media, but it doesn’t hurt to be cognizant of the possibilities.

Let Accessible Help You

If you are unsure about something regarding how your senior navigates the internet, let us know and we can assist you. If you feel your senior could benefit from any of our in-home care services, contact us.

Your senior’s safety is our number one priority.