Older people on the Internet: their habits and fears

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We decided to find out how older people use the Web, are they aware of cyber threats, what they fear and if they are cautious. In our analyzes, we used the results of a survey conducted in August 2016 among 12,546 users from 21 countries aged 16 and over. 13% of respondents were older than 55: 7% were 55 to 64 years of age and 6% were 65 or older.

What are older people doing on the internet?

Older people use the Internet in the same way as younger people, e.g. they write letters: 94% of respondents aged 55 and over regularly use e-mail.

25% of them use a communication application and use video calls (offered by Skype or Google Hangouts). 61% of people aged 55 and over have an account on social networks, where they chat with friends and contact their children and grandchildren.

In addition, older people buy online and use financial tools: 64% of them regularly visit stores and pay with a bank card, while 68% use online banking tools (this is a relatively high rate, as for all age groups this percentage is much lower and amounts to 59%). More than 1/3 of surveyed senior users regularly book tours – tickets and hotels – online.

At the same time, older people often fall victim to cybercriminals and lose data or money (or data and money).

What do they know about cybersecurity?

Unfortunately, people over 55 are generally not very well educated when it comes to cybersecurity. Only 1/3 of respondents have ever heard of someone spying on them via a webcam . At the same time, they are avid gadget lovers: 1/4 of the respondents use tablets, 1/3 have smartphones, and Apple devices are very popular among them.

These older people know their computers need to be protected, and 93% said they were using an antivirus product for Windows. At the same time, however, they largely neglect the protection of other internet-connected devices. Additionally, more than half are (wrongly) convinced that Apple computers do not require protection.

It is no better with smartphones. Only 52% of people over the age of 55 said they use antivirus products to protect their mobile devices. Unfortunately, the overall situation is not very interesting: out of all the surveyed, only 57% of users protect their mobile devices.

And while 75% of older people protect their primary internet browsing device with passwords, they don’t set them on other connected devices: only 3/10 of users 55 and older choose stringent privacy settings on social networks and browsers. Even fewer (18%) turn off geolocation in applications.

Interestingly, 25% of the surveyed older internet users tend to avoid popular websites such as Google and Facebook, explaining such behavior by fear of sharing their private data. In this respect, they are twice as cautious as people aged 16 to 24 (12% of them share these concerns).

Only half of older people can estimate the potential risks associated with online transactions. Most of the older internet users have heard of leaks, malicious programs that put their data and passwords at risk, and online scams that lead to money loss. However, only 14% of them believe that something like this could happen to them – they are much more careless about it than their younger colleagues.

Call your parents

An increasing number of older people are aware of the educational shortcomings associated with new technologies and are able to ask for help from a family member.

Younger family members admit that their older relatives are at real risk. More than half of younger users are concerned about the digital life of their parents, and almost 2/3 worry about their grandparents.

The older generation is less aware of cyber threats and is generally more trusting, making it more vulnerable. In many cases, they cannot fully use their devices, install the necessary programs or apply appropriate security settings.

That is why it is worth regularly explaining to your parents and grandparents the basics of safe Internet use. And of course, the devices themselves must not be forgotten; it is best to secure them with a reliable antivirus .