PRESS ENTERPRISE 8/11/2018 – 12 Steps to Help Seniors Learn to Use the Internet (Looking at You, Mom)


Seniors on the internet

Technology Assistance for the Elderly

Seniors are working longer for many reasons. Many of their jobs include using computers and the internet. When they retire, they continue to use those skills in various ways and enjoy the benefits of being internet savvy.

There are many older seniors, though, who were not introduced to computers or the internet and are challenged and scared of the whole concept. If you are not utilizing elder care services, the responsibility may fall on you and your relatives to ensure that they are comfortable with their use of the Internet and technology.

Here are some things you can do to help older seniors to adjust to the internet and its benefits.

  1. Evaluate any health challenges an older senior might have including poor eyesight, hearing problems and memory issues.
  2. Help them find the controls or settings to make the text bigger, and the sound louder. Text reading software might make it easier for a senior to navigate the internet.
  3. Talk to them and listen to what they want to do with the internet and their computer. Is the senior reading the news, e-mailing the grandkids, playing games, reading books or doing research on vacations or medical issues?
  4. Their answers will help you determine what computer, tablet, programs, and apps you should consider buying for them. Consider touch screens and tablets as they may be much easier for older seniors to understand.
  5. Be patient with them as they learn new words, technology and concepts.  The saying “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” doesn’t apply to older seniors who want to learn. It might take them longer than younger people, but many have become quite agile after practicing for a period of time.
  6. Help them understand that social networking sites such as Facebook can help them reach out to friends and family that are spread out over the country and the world. If they can’t drive, the social networking might keep them up to date with local friends.
  7. Help them protect personal information on bank sites and understand that banks and businesses want to keep their information secure.
  8. Since technology changes and program updates happen on a regular basis, prepare them that they should be ready to ask for help.
  9. Explain to them the monetary cost of using the internet and apps so that they become more comfortable using them.
  10. Install and update malware software on their computer to protect the senior against a virus, spy ware, worms, etc.
  11. Prepare them for the real dangers on the internet such as scams. Some online criminals target seniors because of their lack of skills and knowledge about the internet. The criminals will try to exploit them as much as they can.
  12. Teach them not to answer e-mails that seem like financial services or are apparently scams to younger generations. These include e-mails that:
  • Ask for money.
  • Offer great deals if you order right now.
  • Have misspelled words or typos.
  • Appear to be from the IRS or other government agencies demanding money immediately.
  • State that your account will be closed immediately then ask for personal information.
  • Appear to be from a friend or family member and have a link to somewhere else with no message. It probably means that the sender’s account has been hacked.

While there are many issues for a senior to overcome in learning about computers and the internet, most become very comfortable and become accustomed to using the internet on a regular basis.

By MARCIA CAMPBELL | Contributing columnist with THE PRESS ENTERPRISE
PUBLISHED: August 11, 2018

Marcia L. Campbell, has worked as a CPA for over 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court accountings and probate litigation support. You can reach her at

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