From putting seniors in contact with their grandkids to giving them a GPS to find friends’ houses, smartphones can be an excellent way for your older relatives to keep in touch. However, in an era of sneaky text message scams and internet identity theft, there are plenty of reasons your elderly loved ones may be unsure about swapping their trusty landline for a phone that requires a mobile data plan. For older adults wary of cyberspace, a senior-friendly flip phone such as those available through Lively Direct can facilitate streamlined call and text communication without the bells and whistles that older smartphone users might find daunting.
However, just because smartphones can intimidate older users doesn’t mean these devices have to be scary. From choosing a secure password to deleting suspicious text messages, elderly adults can take various precautions if they are looking to leap the latest cellphone technology. Read on for five safety tips that can empower the seniors in your life to make smart decisions about their smartphones.
Keep it password protected
Choosing a strong password is one of the first ways you can help a senior in your life keep their smartphone safe. Opt for a password containing letters, numbers, and characters and steer clear of birthdays and pet names. Having your loved one create a high entry barrier to access their device will help protect their data.
Screen text messages before responding
While anyone would love to get a random text letting them know they have won an all-inclusive Caribbean cruise, messages like these are usually scams. When helping your older relative with smartphone safety, mention messages that advertise sweepstakes prizes as just one of many texts to leave on read. Your elderly loved one can stay safer in cyberspace by not responding to any text message from an unknown number.
Be careful with apps
From your favorite game to guided meditation, there is an app for just about everything. However, just because your elderly relatives can download an app for each of their interests doesn’t mean that they should. Help the older adults in your life learn to check an app’s authenticity before uploading medical information or other personal data.
Set up a “find my phone” feature
Ensure your loved one sets up a “find my phone” app before their smartphone ever leaves their side. That way, if grandma’s phone ever does happen to go missing, you have a way of tracking the device and protecting her sensitive data.
Be wary of public Wi-Fi
While using that free coffee shop internet can help you catch up on the news without dipping into your mobile data plan, viewing private information on public Wi-Fi can share your passwords and account data with scammers. Talk to your older relatives about viewing sensitive information such as bank accounts on public Wi-Fi before taking their smartphones out on the town.
In the era of catfishing and other forms of internet fraud, the older adults in your life might be scared to swap their trusty landline for their first smartphone. However, from being cautious with coffee shop Wi-Fi to enabling a “find your phone” feature, there are myriad ways seniors can make the smartphone switch a safe one.