Internet Safety in your Golden Years


Statistics show that cybercrime affects the over 55’s more than any other age group in Africa. This worrying trend is something that those in their more senior years need to take note of. For instance, the over 55’s in Africa use the internet more frequently than other age groups for emailing their loved ones, shopping and banking online. Whilst doing so, they tend not to use the same high levels of protection that younger internet users do, and as such are 8% – 18% less likely to use security features associated with social networking sites and those that come with their devices.

Increased Risk for Seniors?

The sheer fact that senior citizens are using the internet more makes them more at risk for cybercrime attacks. Couple that with the decreased level of internet security and you have a recipe for disaster. Moreover, South Africa is a country already high-up in the stakes of cybercrime. Recently, South Africa was said to be a country with the third highest number of cybercrime victims in the world! It is unsurprising then that those most vulnerable in South African society, mostly the elderly, will release sensitive personal information to hackers unless they become more cyber-savvy.

Dating Online Gracefully, and Safely

Baby boomers are now divorcing at a rapid rate. Quaintly termed “Gray divorce” it seems baby boomers have the fastest growing rate of divorce of all the age groups and naturally they turn to senior dating sites to find a new mate. In terms of online dating, safety in South Africa is a concern. It was estimated that 62% of  South African online dating website users lied in their profiles. South Africa has also been victim to several online dating website scams, the most recent being a Nigerian scam in 2015 that cost users R70 million. It has also been found that hackers are likely to make-up profiles and lure private information out of their victims through the pretence of being interested in them. This is something that the elderly are often not prepared for and it has to do with some hard facts about trust.

Too Trusting?

It has been found that older people are naturally more trusting than the younger generations. Not due to lower intellects or education, but natural ageing. Clinical studies carried out by a team of experts at UCLA found that the anterior insular parts of the brain, the area that determines risk and risk-avoidance, was far less responsive in older adults. Essentially, this makes them more trusting and less likely to question behaviour younger adults might.

Keeping Seniors Safe From Online Fraud

Although the outcomes of the UCLA research indicate that those in their golden years are more at risk of being victims of fraudulent activity, they can protect themselves. Excellent information exists on the web about how to use the internet safely without becoming a victim of cybercrime.

Online Safety for South African Seniors

Thankfully, South Africa is implementing many procedures and projects to assist in protecting those in their later years from internet fraud. The country has recently partnered with France to fight cybercrime and SA’s first forensic investigators are already being trained. This will not only be of use to the country but will help seniors too as the partnership’s reach will cover all South Africans who use the internet. In addition, organisations like TAFTA take online safety seriously and look into how they can keep various those in their golden years safe online.

Safe rather than sorry

South Africa’s golden oldies’ are still at risk when it comes to passing out sensitive information on the net. Aside from the natural ageing process, lack of skill with computers often puts them at higher risk. The best advice for seniors wanting to transact or date online? Make sure that you get a knowledgeable person that you trust to ensure your device and accounts have good security and educate yourself on how to stay safe when using the net.

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