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  • Writer's pictureMalena Lloret López

Digital safety in the senior age group: Recommendations for safe and secure use.

Updated: Apr 3

DigiWELL Project No.: 2022-2-SK01-KA220-ADU-000096888

In the 21st century, we live in a digital era where technology plays a very important role in our lives. We are connected all day long and we make regular use of the Internet, so it is important to be aware of the dangers that the network can unleash. Thus, online safety has become an increasingly severe concern, especially for older adults. It is true that after the physical isolation we had due to the confinement caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many seniors have started to make use of technologies to stay connected to their loved ones and access the services that technologies provide them, so they are also exposed to online risks.

This is why we see it as important to provide them with information and recommendations to raise their awareness of digital security.

First of all, digital education is a key step to reinforce and strengthen digital security in the elderly. At first, many of them are not aware of the amount of threats that exist online nor of all the recommendations or best practices that exist to protect their personal information. That is why it is important to provide them with clear, accessible and easy-to-understand information so that they can recognize dangers, scams and create secure passwords to protect their data and financial information.

As we have already mentioned, using strong passwords is very important to protect all our data, and a strong password is the first line of defense against cyber-attacks. That is why it is very important to guide and teach seniors to create unique and complex passwords for their online accounts. They should be advised to avoid using highly personal and easily identifiable information such as family names, birth dates or phone numbers, and to try to use letters, numbers and special characters that make it more difficult to crack. At the same time, it is also of great relevance to keep software up to date, as seniors should be aware of keeping the software on all their electronic devices (smartphones, tablets and computers) updated to the latest version. All software updates usually include a series of security patches that fix and upgrade devices for known vulnerabilities. A simple step like this will ensure that whenever you update your software you will be better protected against online threats.

The senior population can be a target for physical and online scams due to their unfamiliarity with them and their over-reliance on promises. They should be aware of the warning signs of scams such as previously unsolicited messages or emails asking for sensitive personal or financial information; phone calls from unknown callers asking for banking information; and sometimes suspicious websites offering a series of unrealistic, too-good-to-be-true offers that may seem logical to seniors.

Seniors should be aware of the importance of configuring privacy and security settings on their online accounts. Among these activities is adjusting privacy settings on social networks, posting as little information as possible about their private data while limiting who can see their personal information. Another important activity would be to enable two-factor authentication whenever possible and given the option; and finally to use encryption options when communicating online.

It is important to let them know that seniors are not alone in learning and using digital

security. All of them should feel supported in seeking help from family, friends or people

specialized in technology and that they should consult when they have any doubts about their online safety. It is important to mention that there are also community organizations and programs that offer them help through resources and physical and digital support.

In conclusion, digital safety is currently an important concern for all ages, but it is true that for seniors it can be more complex as they are not fully familiar with technology and because of their vulnerability they are exposed to online scams. Thus, by providing them with education, awareness and practical tools we can help protect this most vulnerable part of the population and allow them to enjoy the technological world in a safe and secure way.

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