Whether you’re 50+, 60+ or a more “Senior” senior, the truth about technology is you’ve seen a lot of changes in your lifetime. We’ve lived through a period of time that has seen multiple changes, an evolution that has encompassed making our own mix tapes, recorded off the radio, to portable music (remember the Sony Walkman) to portable calculators, CD’s replacing LP’s (yet now LP’s are cool again) and even from a home phone attached to the wall to the “freedom” of a portable phone you could carry around the house! Today we have more technology available on our wrist or portable phone (a phone you can actually use anywhere in the world) than we ever thought possible. Now, more than ever, technology shapes and defines us – are you using technology wisely?
It’s Technology Month!
August is “Technology Month” and with students returning to some form of learning, more than likely online, no doubt you didn’t need us to tell you this. With all the marketing and advertising directed at computer sales for students you probably figured this out all on your own! Yet, what about us? Tech savvy seniors are more and more the norm and comprise a large part of the potential market for anything from cell phones, to laptops and handheld tablets. There is so much about technology that enables seniors to do more, and to live independently, than ever before. Tech savvy seniors will embrace these opportunities.
Online banking frees you up from the once weekly visit and lining up at your local branch, something that is more important than ever as we are still experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks throughout North America. You don’t even need to leave the house to deposit a cheque. Either use the direct deposit feature offered by many companies and the government, or simply take a picture of your cheque using a mobile app and deposit your money straight to your account. A tablet can serve as your own personal library or bookstore with most local library branches providing a service that enables you to borrow and download books, for free, with just a few clicks of a button. Looking to purchase a book – you can do that too, all from the comfort of you couch and have it delivered right to your front door. A laptop computer, desktop or even your phone can help you to stay in touch with family and friends (and yes, even your grandchildren) if you just take the time to become familiar with a few simple tools like texting, video calling and private messaging applications on social media. You can order your groceries online to be delivered to your door, shop for gifts and have them sent to the recipient and even book your lab appointment if you need some bloodwork done. As well, without placing too much emphasis on pandemic news, the truth about technology is this: as we head out of summer and into the cooler months, it will play an increasingly more important role in terms of helping us all stay in touch with one another. With that in mind, today we’re offering a few “layperson’s” tips and tools for using technology wisely.
Tips to help keep you safe online!
- Ironically, we strongly suggest that when it comes to passwords, you use the good old-fashioned method of writing them down to keep track of them! That’s because we also recommend you use a different password for each of your applications in order to ensure strong protection of your vital information. Ensure your passwords are unique and not something easily discoverable like your mother’s maiden name. You can also use the “Notes” section on your phone to track passwords but unless your phone is also password/thumbprint or facial recognition protected, this makes you more vulnerable if it’s ever stolen.
- Avoid using the “Remember Me” automatic sign in feature available on many apps. Again, this leaves you vulnerable. Take the extra moment or two to actually type in your password each time you use your banking or credit card online apps.
- Consider using a dedicated online credit card for all your online purchases, or setting up a PayPal account or similar to use as a payment method when shopping online. This will ensure you are not left without any access to credit if this card is somehow compromised. Keep this card at home (not in your wallet) for extra security.
Trust No One!
- This might sound a little extreme but essentially what we mean is this: If you ever receive a message, phone call, text or other message suggesting that your “information has been compromised” or your “credit card has suspicious activity” or “your computer account has been hacked” or any of the many other various scams and threats that criminals will use, just take a deep breath, stay calm and hang up the phone or delete the message. Then, contact your local bank branch and / or the 1-800 number on the back of your credit card and only deal with them directly to verify whether there truly is an issue with your account or credit card. For the record – Microsoft will never call you claiming there is a “problem” with your computer!
Ensure your Privacy Settings are Strong
- Social media tools like facebook, Instagram and others are a great way to stay in touch with family and friends, especially those who live far away. There are even features that allow you to make free calls (facetime for example) where you can both see and talk to the folks you love. But be careful. When setting up a new account you have many options available to you to help protect your privacy and information and sadly, most folks don’t use them. With just a few clicks you can easily ensure your personal information is only ever seen by the people you trust the most. If you need help when setting up online accounts ask the grandkids!
- I’m joking of course, most of us are quite tech savvy already but if you are new to this and there are no grandchildren available, many communities offer services to seniors that match a senior with a volunteer who can help. Your local community centre or library branch or even some service clubs that specifically support seniors, are all places you might contact and ask to be paired with a volunteer that can help you set up your technology, your social media accounts and also spend some time tutoring you on the basics.
Be Tech Savvy!
Are you using technology wisely? We could write at length on the topic but like technology tools themselves, there is so much information already available online that we encourage you to spend some time doing research yourself. More importantly, the information is always changing and it can be hard to keep up! These basic tips however, will never go out of date. Learning how to stay safe online frees you up to think of technology as your friend, the tool that helps you stay in touch with folks both near and far and the tool that makes some of your every day tasks in life easier – used wisely, that’s a good thing!