The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety

connect-safely-for-seniorsAdult children often find themselves providing technology support services for their aging parents. Now there’s a new, research-based resource to help.

The Connect Safely organization has recently published The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety. The publication contains important information, it’s free, and it’s simple to download as a PDF file. Adult children may want to print the booklet and share this short and easy-to-read guide.

The Seniors Guide to Online Safety addresses a range of issues that are critical for senior and elder adults to consider and understand as they go about online activities. The guide includes safety and privacy tips, information on a range of scams, guidance about securing wifi, and advice about protecting identify and financial information. The goal is to educate older adults with information that comes from experts.

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When Scary Virus Messages Appear on Your Aging Parent’s Screen…

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This is an example of a warning. I did not have the presence of mind to make a screen shot.

Adult children who support aging parents and their personal computers need to be aware of a threat that can pop up on a computer anytime and cause major problems if a person does not understand how to handle the threat. Our parents need to hear about this potential problem.

The other day I was working on my computer, visiting the website of a noted author, when suddenly my screen turned to white and a voice repeated over and over that I had a virus.The recorded voice told me to use a telephone number that I was to call immediately to get my computer fixed. I hadn’t opened any attachment and, I was not visiting any questionable or unsavory website.

Now I am a technology geek. I’ve trained students and teachers on technology and curriculum topics for years. My computers and devices are all well-protected. But this message scared me, and even with all my training and experience, I kept rereading the message and wondering what to do. And that voice kept repeating the message…

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Facetime: A Simple, Intuitive & Easy Way to Include Great Grandparents

tripod for Facetime

Our tripod set-up

My grandson is lucky enough to have two great grandparents — my mom and dad — and we use FaceTime so they can visit with the baby despite the 500 miles that separates them.

He is too young to understand the importance of communicating with FaceTime. Oh, he’s interested the iPad or iPhone, and he is quite curious about the black silicon tripod. When my grandson sees himself on camera, he is delighted with the images, but right now he does not really get the significance of what’s going on as we all watch one another by telephone.

On the other hand, my parents, his great grandparents, totally understand the significance of the activity. They watch him moving around on camera, eating breakfast, or playing with his toys. No matter what they are doing, they will happily drop it and sit down with the iPad if a FaceTime opportunity arises. Once online they wave (he’s just learned how to wave back — sometimes) or make silly sounds, or just marvel at how much he has grown since the last time.

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Cyber Seniors Documentary: Well Done!

This afternoon at the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) conference in Washington, DC, I saw clips from a documentary, Cyber-Seniors, about teenage volunteers in Toronto who work with elders — people in their mid to late 80s and older — and the rich clarity of their interactions. Many of these people retired before computers appeared in any significant way into the workplace.

The movie, which travelled around film festivals, has already screened in more than 80 viewings around Canada and the United States — with more to come. It shares special moments, difficult moments, looks of wonder, moderate shock (usually at what grandparents see on their grandchildren’s pages), and the excitement we all feel when we learn something new. And yes, sometimes it’s funny. Cyber-Seniors has garnered lots of good press. (I do wish, however, that people in the media would stop calling elders “cute.” You media folks will grow older some day andhttp://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_26931356/magid-exclusive-amazon-fire-phones-fight-ebola-west-africa you WILL NOT appreciate being labeled as cute.)

Here’s a clip of a teenage mentor teaching a woman to take a selfie.

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Windows Security Message Fraud Telephone Calls — It Finally Happened to Me!

I am so excited that I received this scam phone call so I can share exactly what happened! Lots of these calls come during the day when senior adults are at home.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 8.37.50 PMThe phone rings. The phone caller identifies himself as a Microsoft security officer and tells me that my computer is sending out messages to Microsoft that indicate it has a terrible virus. He offers to help. All I have to do is open the door (my computer’s door, that is) so he can fix my computer. It’s a scam, but I decided to lead him on.

When I tell the caller that my computer has up-to-date security and virus protection, he says that it is not working, and he is urgent about the possibility that I may lose data, personal information, or worse still, private financial files

I wonder whether I should I mention to him that I have a Mac computer and that the operating system is not run by Microsoft so it cannot possibly be sending out error messages.

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iTunes Scam — Watch Out

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 5.09.54 PMIf you use an iPhone or iPad, be aware that an iTunes scam resurfaces from time-to-time and is again making the rounds

People may receive an email that claims to be from the iTunes store. I got it a couple of days ago. The email points out that an individual’s iTunes account has been used to make possibly fraudulent purchases, and it may even include an invoice to show the person what purchases have been made.

Naturally the scammer invites people to simply click on a link to fix things and solve the problem, but the link leads to a site that looks like iTunes (sort-of) but is fake. The person is then asked for account info, etc.

Don’t be fooled!

Here’s what Apple has on its website about this kind of Phishing               Continue reading