A Senior’s Guide to Playing Safe Online

Even for the older generation, being online is becoming a common occurrence.

The pandemic forced much of the population to electronic devices for social interaction and other basic tasks, which meant an ageing generation found themselves heading online. It may have been to stay in touch with relatives, but it opened a new dimension for many, who otherwise may not have felt the need to buy a computer, laptop or tablet.

Once the gateway is open, the world of possibilities online is highly beneficial for seniors. Online games such as Wordle appeal to younger people, as most online games do, and to those in their advancing years. After all, the recent internet phenomenon is just a word version of Mastermind, which was based on a game called Bulls and Cows going back a century. With a core premise that doesn’t age, simple appeal made Wordle wildly popular among all ages. The same goes for those who enjoy poker; it’s a game played in the United States since the Wild West era, and today many people play poker online. It is accessible on mobiles, laptops and tablets and introduces social elements. These types of games, and others, have an appeal that perhaps wouldn’t have been discovered by seniors had they not lived through the recent pandemic.

However, the increased exposure to games and communication platforms does leave everyone open to cyber attacks. This could be a problem for seniors, as learning the tech can be challenging enough without understanding how people seek to exploit you. Even if you’re not retired or in your advancing years, it might be worth going through these points with people you’re close to who might be at risk.


You seemingly need a password for everything these days, and poor password habits are easy to get into. Bad practice includes using the same password for every account or making it too easy, such as ‘yourname1234’. Indeed, some accounts won’t even allow you to use such basic combinations now, but remembering them can be hard. Your laptop can store passwords, but what’s the point if you lose your device or have it stolen?

Some people like to have a little black book, so to speak, with websites and passwords written in them. You can then seek to change your passwords regularly and simply make sure your book is kept updated. You could then keep that in a safe or a locked drawer, so even if your device got hacked or stolen, you could access passwords remotely.

Virus Protection

Explaining a computer virus to someone with little knowledge of how technology works can be tough, so encouraging your relatives to go all-in on good virus protection is important. Anti-virus software can be quite expensive, and some can slow your computer down if not set up properly. Our recommendation would be to get a professional to install it and set it up, so it doesn’t slow your system down. Look at it this way; you wouldn’t buy a car and then expect to fit the alarm yourself.

Personal Details

There’s a simple rule to adhere to online; don’t give your personal details to anyone who asks. It could seem innocuous enough; you’ve been playing online poker for a while, and a regular opponent pops up in a chatbox and gets you talking. Whilst it may sound unsociable; this is a red flag. Many scammers are out there who create accounts to befriend people and get details from them; Word With Friends is a title rife with such fraudsters.

Try not to give details about yourself unless you’re buying products online or creating accounts on reputable sites like Facebook or Instagram. Even them, be careful not to be duped; don’t even click on an email link and enter a seemingly reputable site that way, as it could be a trap.

Email Scams

Even an email from someone who seems to be a friend could be a scam. Often, fraudsters try to commit phishing scams, where an email arrives purporting to be from a reputable company, but the intention is to coax personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, from you.

Don’t open attachments either if you’re in doubt, as they could hide viruses. The same goes for unsolicited messages from people on social media. If someone you don’t usually speak to says “hi”, be very cautious. Messages that urge you to open an attachment should always be treated with a degree of distrust. Before clicking any link, message whoever sent it to you back, if possible on another platform such as a mobile phone, to check it’s a legitimate message.