March 29, 2021

How to Make Elderly Father Safe(r) Online

My Dad is turning 70 and knows the basics of computers (how to use a web browser to search, what a forum is, etc.). Throughout the years, I have taught him a few “tips and tricks” about computers, such as how to copy and paste, and installing Grammarly so he could make better TripAdvisor posts. Every time, he very staunchly resisted these changes and thought I was destroying the computer. He usually visits the same websites, but is taking more risks now.

He recently signed up for a dating website, and does not know the concepts of catfishing or whether a person is a “bot” or not. He also visits shady as h*ll online gambling websites, and lost something like $70 in hidden fees after putting his credit card info into a foreign service. His problems extend to technology in general- a fast-talking salesman at best Buy can sell him the best version of anything, regardless of whether he needs it or not. He doesn’t understand storage space or videogame consoles beyond the PS2 at all. He runs the home desktop computer (a decade old and never cleaned) all night in an enclosed area so he can rack up hours on a radio listening site, which is a huge fire hazard. He resists my every suggestion for safety for both software and hardware.

The question I have is two parts. (1) The Social Element- how do you get a proudly old-fashioned dude to learn new things to be safer online and (2) Are there any software or service to teach elderly people to be safer online? Like the Nettiquite classes some of us had in school, but with elders who have some tech experience in mind? Any other tips are welcome.

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