So, your parents have finally joined the rest of the world and gotten a computer. Here’s how you can help make their online experience enjoyable and safe:
• Suggest they take an introductory computer/Internet class. (Some local community centers may offer this for free—also try the library, community college, or even a senior center.) Review the course summary to make sure they don’t end up in a class on creating web pages and HTML code, instead.
• Explain pop ups, banner ads, and spam. It’s important to make sure that your parents are aware of these. Especially because many scams target mature computer users. You may want to share Fearless Web’s recent article on Internet scams with them, too.
• Tell them about phishing. Sure, your parents have a lot of real world experience but they need to know that the Internet has creeps, cons, and criminals, too. Discuss email, spam, and online banking. You may know that your bank or credit card company will never email you requesting your password. However, hackers are great at making these sites look extremely legitimate. And for the Internet newbie, this is a problem. Tell your parents to be very cautious of emails from banks, or even friends, asking for any information at all. Advised them to always contact the inquiring bank directly and speak to a representative before doing anything.
• Help your parents set privacy controls. And when (not if) you are friends on Facebook or MySpace, discuss your sharing preferences. ”No baby photos, ok, Mom?” Also, explain how to befriend someone and warn them that scammers like Kermit Koobface and Mickey Malware might try to be their Facebook friend, too.
• Make sure they’re using strong antivirus and Internet security software. Be sure they know how to keep it updated or get a brand that updates automatically like Trend Micro™ Titanium™. This can go a long way toward helping them have a safe and positive experience on the Internet.
The Internet has so much to offer and it can be a wonderful way for mature people to connect and reconnect with their peers. Just make sure that your parents have the information and tools they need to be safe.