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We'll even come to you

Aging and the Internet, facts, figures and advice

Then & Now

Not long ago, the Internet was considered to be exclusive to the younger generations. However, the fact that 70% of users older than 65 years use the Internet on a daily basis shows that things have changed in recent years as more and more of the elderly population have started discovering the wonders of the digital world, which I think is excellent!

Main usage

The MedAlertHelp blog post shows that the elderly who have adopted new technologies and use them on a daily basis are usually “younger” seniors, more affluent, and have a higher degree of education. The below breakdown shows you how American Seniors spent their "online" time. As you'll see below, there are many different activities, but the highest scoring past time is to send or receive emails.
•    Sending or reading emails – 91%.
•    Using search engines to find information – 70%.
•    Checking weather reports and forecasts – 61%.
•    Getting news – 58%.
•    Do any banking or financial activities – 55%.
•    Using a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. – 49%.
•    Buying products online – 41%.
•    Looking for new on information about politics – 40%.
•    Sending instant messages – 24%.
•    Watching videos on a video sharing site – 20%.
•    Booking trips – 15%.
•    Using classified ads sites like Craigslist – 12%.
•    Participating in online auctions – 8%.


To go online, seniors use a wide range of different devices such as smartphone, Ipads, tablets, desktop computers and Laptops. Surprisingly, the most often used devices are smartphones (used by 70% of people older than 50). Laptops come in second place with 62%, and desktop computers are third with just one per cent less than laptops.  Tablets are used by 43% of people aged 50+. Furthermore, the home assistant comes in the last place with only 7% of this group of people using it.

If you are an active internet user, you would already be aware of the many benefits that come from using the Internet. I think social connections and the easy and free access to information are two very important aspects of the internet to all users. However, I think people with limited mobility especially benefit from these, as it allows them to stay connected easily and research products and services that may assist them with regaining mobility. Further access to applications such as Skype, Messanger or Viber allow people to stay connected with friends and family all over the world for a fraction of the cost that long distance calls used to incur.


Dangers & Scams

As useful as the internet can be it also has some dangers. These include email scams, phone scams and unwanted online contact. Unfortunately, many of these scams are targeted at people with limited knowledge of the internet, which often includes Senior Citizens. As a rule of thumb, never give out any confidential information over the phone or via email. If you are unsure if the call is legitimate, it is usually best to hang up and look up the number for the company or service for example Telstra and call them on their listed number. If there are any outstanding bills etc that need paying they will be able to advise you about these. Don't ever give out your credit card information or birthdate over the phone unless you dialled an officially listed number.  
Other scams are long-term in nature; they include reaching out and "befriending" people, hoping to gain their trust, with the aim of collecting personal confidential information, which can be used for identity fraud. Alternatively, you may be asked to assist a sick relative with medical bills or similar.

My Own Experience with Scams

Unfortunately, the Internet allows us to stay anonymous, and many people take advantage of it. It is always best to remain vigilant when we are using the internet, just as we would when we meet strangers. While we can be friendly and courteous, it is best to stay vigilant. I myself have recently been targeted by a Taxation scam, where I would receive a recorded phone call or text message saying that I need to pay a certain amount of tax or I will be charged and a warrant for my arrest will be issued. It was a quite threatening message. The first thing I did was jump on my computer and google Tax scam. Which, to my relieve, showed me that this is a scam that is currently in circulation and to ignore it.

Help & Advise

Don't let this information scare you away from the internet, as the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls. If in doubt, ask family and friends and if all else fails call consumer protection, who will be able to give you professional advice over the phone. Alternative you can sign up to Scam Alert an initative from the Australian Competitiona and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which sends out emails as soon as new scams are beeing reported. This will allow you to stay up to date and assist friends and families if they may be targeted. You can view more inforamtion about Scams and Scamwatch on the ACCC's website https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/advice-for-older-australians#more-information


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