According to a recent survey on infocomm usage, Internet usage by senior citizens saw significant growth with nine in 10 seniors aged 50 to 59 using smartphones. While the Internet is a great way for seniors to keep in touch with family and friends, get information and enjoy leisure activities, it also exposes them to online dangers. Some seniors are uncertain about the necessary precautions to take while using the Internet, leaving them vulnerable to online scams and phishing attempts by cyber criminals.
With more than half of our seniors learning their computer or Internet skills from family members, you play an important part in helping your parents or even grandparents stay safe online.
Here’s how you can get started:
1. Help to protect their devices
Help your parents or grandparents practise good cyber hygiene by installing anti-virus software on their computers and mobile devices to keep out malicious software (malware), which are designed by cyber criminals to steal personal information. You should also turn on the firewall, which is a protective barrier between the computer and the Internet to safeguard your computer and the information in it from unauthorised access. Security updates contain important security fixes that can help keep your devices safe from cyber criminals, so ensure that their devices’ operating system is up-to-date by enabling automatic updates. This will enable the devices to automatically download and install updates as soon as they are available.
2. Explain cybersecurity to them in a relatable manner
Just as you would not let a stranger into your house, you should not click on links or open attachments from unfamiliar sources to avoid inviting danger into your home. By explaining cybersecurity concepts in a way that is familiar to seniors, such as relating it to how you would secure your home, you can help them better understand the importance of cybersecurity.
Spend some time to explain these basic cybersecurity tips to them:
• Use strong passwords
• Use anti-virus software
• Keeping software up-to-date
• Spot the signs of phishing
3. Teach them about online scams
Seniors are attractive targets of online scams as they are more likely to have accumulated savings and tend to be more trusting of others. To help seniors avoid becoming a victim of online scams, dedicate some time to teach them about common types of online scams and what to do when they encounter a scam.
Below are some examples of common online scams:
• Phishing scam
• Email impersonation scam
• Internet love scam
• Credit-for-sex scam
• Software upgrade scam
Advise seniors to exercise vigilance when making friends over the Internet and to ignore calls, emails or messages from strangers requesting money or personal details. If you have reason to believe that your parents or grandparents have encountered a scam, you can contact the National Crime Prevention Council’s anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 to seek advice or make a report.
4. Encourage lifelong learning
There are many courses available for seniors to learn basic digital skills, including how to manage information and communication, and how to stay safe online. Seniors who are interested in learning basic digital skills can sign up for IT courses at the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) Silver Infocomm Junctions (SIJs), National Silver Academy, and 'Seniors for Smart Nation', a programme under the People’s Association Senior Academy. Speak to your parents or grandparents about enrolling for these courses so that they can embrace the digital age while staying safe online.
If they prefer learning online at their own pace, they can refer to the following online resources:
• IM Silver Portal – online infocomm learning portal
• Safe and Secure Online – cyber safety resources for seniors
• ScamAlert.sg – information about scams
• Council for Third Age (C3A) – informative articles about technology