How To Protect Seniors In Real Life And In The Cyber World

When I was 5 years old, we lived in a desert area, with only 3 houses around us. The closest house was about a mile away and our neighbors Aura, her baby daughter and her husband lived in this house. A bit further was a family of 12 children with many dogs and the last house was a very small shack where Mr. Urbano was living by himself.

Mr. Urbano was in his late 70’s and he was the smartest person I had ever met. He always had an answer for my questions, his heart was full of love, and he was very patient even though I asked lots of questions when my mom and I visited our neighbors. Most of the time, we gathered in one house and my mom spent her time with the other moms while I sat listening to Mr. Urbano. The other kids usually were not interested in talking to him, they were either babies or much older kids than I. 

3 things you can do to protect seniors online and in person

One time, I asked: Mr Urbano, What does it mean to die? Where do we go when we die? and Why do people cry?  

With the biggest and warmest smile, with only one tooth left, Mr. Urbano asked me to sit near him and he proceeded to explain.

“When you visit me we have great conversation, we play puzzle games, listen to music, and I tell you stories and adventures, and you enjoy that time, right?” 

“Yes,” I replied to Mr. Urbano, “you are the most amazing person in the world.”

“When it is time to go home, your mom calls you and picks you up and you say ‘Goodbye Mr. Urbano,’ and you go home with the biggest smile, right?” 

“Yes,” I replied. 

“Sometimes, when we are in the middle of a story and your mom says it is time to go home and you don’t want to go home yet, what happens?” 

I thought for a moment and replied: “I get sad, angry and even cry and beg for more time.” 

“Yet, you still go home because it is time and your mom can’t wait any longer,” Mr. Urbano added, “In that same way life happens, we come here, we have great conversations, relationships and lots of adventures and then one day the Creator calls us when it is time to go. If we are ready, we go with a smile, in the same way you go with your mom. 

However, when we are in the middle of a story or haven’t started one, and there is still so much we want to do in life, yet the Creator is calling us, in the same way you don’t want to go in the middle of a story, when we think or feel that we are not ready to leave yet, we get mad, sad or angry and even cry and those that love us also feel the same. 

When we die, we are just going home.” 

A few weeks later Mr. Urbano died. His favorite song, “Reloj” was played at his funeral. Nobody was crying, so I thought he was ready to go home and I was happy for him, although I was going to miss him.

I learned from Mr. Urbano that life is simple. I appreciate that he used words and examples that were easy for me to relate to and understand many topics at my age. Some of those topics were rather complex but by using this approach, almost 45 years later I can still recall his teachings.

How To Protect Seniors In Real Life And In The Cyber World

In that same way, technology and cyber safety can be complex topics, because they change so quickly and every day there are new challenges we face. Yet, when we can relate to technology in a way that is simple and personal, we can make significant changes to improve our interactions in the cyberworld to be safer.

This is why I created the Happily Ever Cyber series, and the HEC Cyber Literacy series, because through stories, we can remember things even better than if we are simply taught them. My promise to you has always been that cybersecurity doesn’t have to be hard, difficult to understand, or boring, it can be simple, easy, and even fun. 

It is so important to protect our families in the cyber world, and the two groups that are vital to protect within the family are our children and our seniors. Senior family members: your older mothers and fathers, grandparents, etc., are not used to being on technology, and simple tasks such as text messaging or video calling can prove to be harder for them, since they did not grow up in a cyber space. Teenagers and children adapt faster since they’ve been raised in a cyber environment, and the younger generations seem to be “made” for technological interaction. 

Because seniors have a more difficult time exploring and having a grasp on the cyber world, it is essential to teach them how to navigate social media, phone apps, and other online functions in order to be protected in this cyber world. Here are 3 things you can do to protect seniors online and in person:

  1. Sit Down And Talk: There is a popular saying that LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. I definitely believe this is true. Remember my story about Mr. Urbano? He cherished the time we spent together, and the fact that I always had time to listen to him and talk to him. Do this with your seniors. Sit down, face them, and give them your undivided attention, especially because you don’t know how much time you have left. Talk to them about topics you may have not thought about before, and be willing to ask them questions. The more you have these interactions, the better your relationship can become. This is also important when it comes to teaching seniors cyber concepts. When you have a strong bond, it can be easier to teach them and help them navigate the cyber ocean. 
  2. Take Safety Measures: If your senior lives alone, and not in assisted living, take extra time to put safety measures in place on their electronic devices. Install antivirus software and antimalware software on their computers, phones, and tablets. Tell them about common scams over the internet, phone, and even in-person scams. In addition to safety precautions for cyber security, take action to protect them in person, too. Install a home security system if you can, like a doorbell with a camera, or an alarm system when doors are opened. These can greatly reduce the chance for in-person crime to happen.
  3. Update and Teach: Some ways to protect your senior (like updating passwords and updating the software on devices) are regular items that need to be done. Take this opportunity to have special time with your seniors and visit them regularly. Teach them how to make strong passwords that they can remember, or get them a Password Manager if they have trouble remembering passwords. Talk to them about popular cyber topics, and make sure they are in the loop on the latest breaches and security concerns. Teach them about being mindful on social media, like not sharing security question answers online, or being careful with who they speak to. 

I hope that these 3 tips will help you protect the seniors in your life. As I always say, the cyber world doesn’t have to be scary, I am taking you by the hand every step of the way.

How do you protect your seniors?

Live Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok, CEO and Founder of Way2Protect | Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok

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