How can you keep grandma or grandpa safe online?

FAMILY members all have a shared responsibility to talk candidly with grandparents about online dangers, including scams that could cause them to lose everything that they’ve worked for.

Early digital education is key, and it begins with their first interaction with smartphones, tablets, laptops, or even smart TVs and digital assistants that take instructions through voice interaction or gestures. Our grandparents must understand that not everything that they see online can be trusted.

For households, it now means that knowledgeable family members should conduct short lessons in simplified language to help seniors become extra vigilant while they navigate the digital space, especially those who may have had less experience using digital technology during their working years.

Common topics with grandma and grandpa should include how to spot potential malware and viruses that can often affect their devices when they open a questionable link within an e-mail. Showing the following examples of trigger words in the subject line of a spam e-mail help: “Claim Your Prize Now”, “100 per cent Money Back Guarantee”, and “Amazing Opportunity, Just For You”. Explain to them that these types of messages are usually the birthplace of online scams that could cost them dearly. Other online places that require an equal amount of tutoring include social media sites. Ensure that they are aware of how to make proper security settings and to avoid posting phone numbers and addresses. Knowing someone before accepting friend requests is also another important ground rule.

At an advanced level there are some pop-ups on smartphones that work almost in the same way as e-mail scams, but are less unsuspecting. A few apps that are generally marketed as free for download tend to carry this risk. For your grandparents, getting a free app instead of having to pay for it is the ultimate money-saver. However, you must encourage them to read the app reviews before they choose to download. What are users saying about the app? Are they complaining about annoying pop-ups, suspicious offers/links, or compromised device security after downloading the app? User-generated feedback is a great way for them to avoid these pitfalls, so remind them to check the reviews before downloading.

A family member recently shared his concern about an app his 75-year-old mother downloaded on her smartphone. His mother, a devout Christian, was in search of a digital source to get Bible verses and daily inspirational messages. There was an app for that, but an intrusive one that was laden with irritating pop-ups, unwanted messages and potentially dangerous malware that could harm the user or the device. It was difficult for the son to persuade his mother to uninstall the app, since, to her mind, the annoyance outweighed the benefits of daily inspiration that the ‘buggy’ app offered. The son prevailed, having revisited the download source to show his mother the poor user reviews. This was a perfect example of the wider ‘village’ showing good digital citizenship by helping to alert and protect others.

As a digital operator that plays a vital role in the digital village, promoting responsible use of technology is very important to all of us at Digicel. Being the primary provider of connectivity to Jamaica enables us to engage Jamaicans across all demographics in conversations about their digital well-being and safety.

By opening up a national conversation on digital citizenship, Digicel is ensuring that we make it safer for our customers to use the products and services we provide to them.

Source: Digicel Jamaica

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