Helping Your Senior Parent Get And Stay Online

28 April 2015
 Categories: , Articles

For many years, senior citizens -- those 65 years of age and older -- were historically reluctant to use the Internet. But a 2012 Pew Research Center has shown that senior citizens are beginning to surf the Net in increasing numbers. Why is this important? Because, today, senior citizens frequently live away from their adult children and also their grandchildren. So the Internet can be an excellent tool for family members and senior citizens to stay in touch, share pictures and to keep everyone aware of important events.

In addition, the Internet can also be an excellent tool for senior citizens to:

  • Get connected with old friends via social media
  • Challenge their minds on various game and puzzle websites
  • Shop online. This is especially helpful for seniors with limited ability to get out
  • Stay up to date on current local and national events

Encouraging Your Senior Parent to Get a Computer

It's not unusual for some senior citizens to be a bit wary of owning a computer, especially if they've never used one before. Some may be afraid that they won't  know what to do once the computer is in their home and that it might turn into a very large, glorified paperweight. Additionally, some seniors -- having heard others talk about viruses and computers going down -- fret that they won't know what to do if they encounter a problem. 

So if you do decide to get your parents online, it is very important that you properly train them on the use of the computer and to also take the time to set your parents up with a repair service, like iTOK, that can help them remotely online.

Getting Your Parent Started

If you do decide to get your parents a computer, you should:

  • Set aside at least a day to train them and to write out step-by-step instructions. This is especially important if your parent has never used a computer before.
  • Help them sign for computer training classes. Many senior centers and adult schools offer beginning computer classes.
  • Put a "Help Desk" made up of willing relatives in place that your senior can call if they have questions about going online or using their computer. 

Remote Computer Repair

In addition to providing initial and ongoing training for your parents, you should also locate a repair service that your parents can use in the event they run into trouble. For instance, savvy computer users usually know to avoid clicking on spam and phishing emails or on visiting sketchy looking websites, but a new user may fall prey to these scam artists or download a bug that could wreak havoc on their computer. A senior may also run into problems if the computer they are using:

  • Is an older hand-me-down unit that is starting to show its age
  • Needs its registry cleaned up in order to speed up its processes. 
  • Has encountered a glitch that has frozen a software program. 

Why a Remote Service?

When possible, fixing a computer remotely works best for seniors because:

  • Your parent won't have to lug a heavy desktop to a repair center. Even a laptop can be unwieldy for a senior citizen to carry, especially if they have limited mobility.
  • They might not know how to unhook and re-hook up their computer to any cables they might be attached to.
  • In most cases, a computer can be fixed more quickly with a remote service. Taking a computer into a service center could take several days, even weeks to have a trouble ticket completed. 
  • Some remote services offer a one-time yearly price for unlimited repairs. 

Computers, fortunately, can open up whole new worlds for seniors. So don't be surprised if your parents end up getting hooked on being online.