Using technology can help older people stay connected and involved. Being unable to navigate the World Wide Web (internet) can result in them becoming 'digitally excluded' and put them at a disadvantage, for example they don't have access to cheaper goods and services online and they can miss out on social or educational opportunities.
Benefits of being on-line can include:
- The internet can make tricky, or mobility-dependent tasks simpler: there's no need to go out and post a letter when you have e-mail.
- There is a wealth of information available on line
- It is available 24/7
- The internet helps make and maintain vital relationships
- The internet can save you money eg in postage
- The internet levels the "disability/age" playing-field – who knows how old you are, or which bits of you don't quite work any more, when you're on the web?
- It is "personal" – no one else creates your communication world but you. Too often older people can become dependent on friends, family and even strangers for transport, letter-posting, bill-paying, or meeting new people, after a lifetime of independence and control.
- Introduced correctly, learners "cross a fear-barrier" and one good learning experience can lead to another, and another, and another.
- Improved personal contacts can ease depression/isolation.
- It can enhance your sense of value within your community by allowing participation via E-mail/online polling/voting which can make your small voice "louder".
Get Online Savvy
Consumer Affairs has just released a free on-line guide for seniors “Get Online Savvy: a guide for seniors" which focusses on scams that target seniors.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing. They speak to a strong need or desire and they push hard for a natural and automatic human response. Scammers win because they target human vulnerabilities which we all have—an urgent financial need, looking for love online, have some cash to invest, or believe we’ve won a competition in the post. These are just a few of the online scams that target seniors quite deliberately.
The guide is full of useful tips, real stories from victims of fraud and a rundown of online scams to watch out for.
General tips include:
- Creating strong and unique passwords when using any online services such as email, online banking, social networking profiles and internet auction accounts
- Making sure your computer is keep as up-to-date as possible – where possible set your system and software to automatically update
- If using your computer or smartphone on public Wi-Fi connections you are potentially sharing your information with others on that network. Think twice before using these connections to buy online, check your bank accounts or read sensitive emails
- Routinely back up your computer or devices
They also emphasis the need to immediately report if you believe that you or someone you know may be a victim of a scam.
Report it to www.scamwatch.govt.nz
If you are concerned that your computer, smartphone, email, or online accounts have been compromised you can get help from NetSafe, www.netsafe.org.nzor call
If significant amounts of money are involved, or the scam appears to be based in New Zealand, you should also contact your local police station for further advice.
For more information go to SuperSeniors
How are seniors using their digital devises?
The study shows some thought-provoking findings, such as the fact that 57% of the participants use a tablet daily and 75% use a computer - which may be higher than expected. Another interesting find is that Skype (video calling) was quite far down the list of desirable functions. Perhaps Grandparents aren't Skyping their Grandchildren as often as we might have thought? Read the article here.
Connect Smart is a new initiative led by Government in partnership with the private and NGO sectors aimed at promoting better cyber security among New Zealanders. For more information go to www.connectsmart.govt.nz
RealMe is a secure, consent-based way to access and share personal information online, developed by Department of Internal Affairs and NZ Post. Currently RealMe has two key jobs. Firstly a login to multiple services, and secondly a verified account working as an online ID. As more services come on board with RealMe, seamless government interactions can be achieved through digital channels and customers’ needs will be more easily met as important life events occur.
The concept of SeniorNet emerged in 1986 in the USA from a research project at the University of San Francisco. The projects aim was to determine if computers and telecommunications could enhance the lives of older adults. SeniorNet was first established in New Zealand in 1992.
SeniorNet brings older adults and technology together in a friendly, fun and stress-free way. It's for people over the age of 50 who'd like to learn more about technology and what it can do for them. Small, well organised classes, with volunteer tutors, about the same age as their students, run courses not only an introduction to computers and surfing the Net but also a vast range of subjects.
Opportunity knocks: Designing solutions for an ageing society “This short report by ILC-UK, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Design Centre and the Institute of Engineering and Technology, seeks to explore how design and technology could better respond to the challenges of an ageing society.” Source: International Longevity Centre UK
Spark launches 'Age Hackers'
Spark have recruited five tech-savvy seniors to blog about how they use technology in their daily lives - the 'Age Hackers'! The idea is that in doing so, they’ll show that age is no barrier when it comes to using new technology. The aim of the programme is to empower seniors to have confidence with technology, and that it will bust some of the negative stereotyping that’s out there!
The Age Hackers are starting off by producing articles about how they’re using tech themselves - you can take a look here!
Elderly travel the world with virtual reality
The men and women at the Brookdale Senior Living Community in the US don't need to leave the building
to take a trip to the French countryside, thanks to the power of virtual reality. They can soar through Yosemite National Park and explore the depths of the ocean. MIT grad students Dennis Lally and Reed Hayes are pioneering the use of this technology with seniors.
Websites of Interest
AgeUk has information on technology including a guide to the internet and an A-Z of computers
Netsafe is an independent non-profit New Zealand organisation that promotes cybersafety by educating and supporting individuals, organisations and industry in a range of issues. It contains a lot of up-to-date and pratical advise.