Internet for Seniors: 7 Online Services You Can Master
Staying at home and staying safe is our important new mission while the world comes together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
We all know how crucial this is but, at best, it might feel boring, at worst extremely concerning. How do we connect with families and friends now? How do we shop and pay our bills? How do we have fun after all our household chores are done?
These questions may be especially worrying for the elderly or those unfamiliar with the online world. You might miss many people, from your grandkids to the helpful girl at your local store. And staying on top of your finances or even entertaining yourself without leaving your home is challenging. But don’t worry! After reading this article, you’ll learn how to contact people and do a lot of the usual things in a new way - by using the internet.
Let’s find out how to keep in touch, buy goods, and enjoy your leisure time using online services. It’s much easier and more fun than you might think! If some of the services below are already familiar to you, then this is just a great sign you’ll be able to master the others as well.
Good news! Clario’s friendly experts are here to help you 24/7 if you ever feel unsure about something online or you need advice on internet security for seniors. Contact us!
1. Let’s talk to friends and family: How to use WhatsApp
What is it?
With WhatsApp, you can send text messages, make voice calls or video calls. You can use it on your phone, tablet, or computer. WhatsApp is free and you only need to have an internet connection to use it. For seniors, WhatsApp is a good service to use to chat with loved ones!
First, let’s install WhatsApp on your phone. You’ll need to do this first, even if you wish to use it on a computer with a larger screen. Read on to learn how to use WhatsApp.
How to start using WhatsApp?
- If you have an iPhone, open the App Store on your phone and search for WhatsApp
- If you have an Android phone, go to the Play Store on your phone and search for WhatsApp
- Once you find WhatsApp, click Get or Install
- Follow the instructions in the app. Don’t worry, it’s all safe
- Set your name and optionally add your photo when requested
- Click Chats, then click the New Chat or Start a Chat button
- You’ll see names of people you can chat with or call. Click the name of a person you want to talk to and try to write them a message
- If you wish to video call them, click a small video icon in the top right corner of the screen
- If you want to get WhatsApp on your computer, go to WhatsApp’s official website, click the Download button there, and follow the instructions
- You can use WhatsApp anytime by launching the app on your phone or computer
WhatsApp security tips
- Avoid scams. Don’t trust WhatsApp messages from people or companies you don’t recognize. If someone tries to make you pay for a premium version of WhatsApp or you receive a message claiming your account is expiring, it’s definitely a fraud. WhatsApp is free and there are no paid versions. If someone asks for your personal information, try to contact this person in another way; otherwise, ignore the message
- Check your privacy settings. Go to the WhatsApp Settings (this depends on your phone but you’ll usually find them in the upper on the lower part of the screen). Under Account > Privacy, go to each section and tick an option that only your contacts can see your personal details
2. Let’s see how everybody’s doing: How to use Facebook
What is it?
Facebook is a social media network. People can use it to share their thoughts, photos, and videos, while others can show their support for these updates by commenting and liking them.
While WhatsApp is more suitable for one-on-one communication with your nearest and dearest, Facebook is more suitable for wider socializing. It is also free and can be used on a phone, tablet, or computer. Let’s try using it on a computer first, then find out some tips on how to use Facebook securely.
How to start using Facebook?
- Click here to go to the Facebook website
- Fill in all the fields under Sign Up to create your profile - this is your own page on Facebook
- Click the Sign Up button and follow the on-screen instructions
- Fill out your newly-created profile: add your photo and some basic information about yourself like education, work, hobbies, and interests. Note that this information will be visible for others, so don’t share the things you prefer to be private
- Look for your friends and relatives by typing their names in the Search bar near the Facebook logo. Once you find them, you can send them a friend request with the Add Friend button
- See what’s new. After you get some Facebook friends, you’ll be able to see what they share by clicking a Facebook logo or Home button in the upper bar
- React to the news. Under each publication, or post by your friends, you’ll see three buttons: Like, Comment, and Share. Click Like if you want to let them know you appreciate their post; click Comment to write something relevant (like a compliment or a question) under a post; and Share to make a copy of their post on your own page
- Make a post. In the upper part of the page, where it asks What’s on your mind?, you can create your own post. Write down your thoughts or share a good photo. Note that you can select who sees your posts
- Talk privately to your friends. Go to their page and click Message to write them something directly. This means only they will see it
- You can use Facebook anytime by visiting facebook.com on your computer, tablet or smartphone
Facebook security tips
- Beware of scams. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know personally. If you do, then never give them your personal details of money. Even if someone you know asks you about your private or banking information, don’t answer right away. Call them to verify their identity instead
- Be careful with surveys and quizzes. Some may be fun but if they ask you to provide your password, Social Security number, credit card, or other personal information, stop filling them in, even if they promised a reward
- Don’t share too much. Don’t write about your money or valuables, or the fact that you’re away from home or home alone. This information may be seen by criminals and that’s something we don’t want to happen
3. Let’s write an online letter: How to use Gmail
What is it?
Along with talking to your friends and family through WhatsApp or Facebook, you can write them an electronic letter, more commonly known as an email. Gmail is one of the email clients, or services to send and receive emails. Moreover, it is a free and simple email client for seniors.
While it may be easier to communicate with some people via WhatsApp or Facebook, there are still reasons why there’s also a need for email for senior citizens:
- you want to communicate with friends who don’t use WhatsApp or Facebook but use email
- you want to register for certain services, from getting a Facebook profile to receiving a travel visa
- you want to receive newsletters or sales notifications from companies you like
How to start using Gmail?
- Click here to go to the Google webpage where you can create your Gmail account
- Follow the online instructions there to set it up
- You’ll need a username (email address) to create your account. People often use a name and a surname for this purpose, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see your name and surname is already taken, try to add another word or numbers to your name
- Make sure you create a strong password you don’t use anywhere else
- Now, you can give your email address to your friends and companies. It is safe. But don’t tell anyone your password
- After creating a Gmail account, you’ll be able to write and receive emails by visiting mail.google.com on your computer
- If you want to create an email, click the Compose button at the upper left corner of your screen. In the Recipients field, write an email address of a person you want to write to. In Subject, give a title to your letter, and below, write your message
- Emails you receive will appear on the screen in front of you. Click on their titles to read them. You can respond to an email using the Reply button below.
Gmail security tips
- Don’t fall for scams. Be very careful with the emails you receive. Just as on WhatsApp and Facebook, fraudsters may send you messages to try and make you give up your personal details, pay money, or download a computer virus. Thus, don’t open emails from anyone you don’t know and don’t click on links or attachments in the email unless you are sure about the identity of the sender
- Get an antivirus app on your computer. This is a computer program that constantly checks whether there are any harmful programs on your computer. With an antivirus, even if you accidentally download a virus, it won’t cause any damage
4. Let’s order some food: How to use Instacart
What is it?
Instacart is a service for grocery shopping and delivery. After you set up an Instacart account, you can select the goods you like from your local store, then a person will receive the order and deliver the groceries to your doorstep. You’ll need to pay for the goods and the delivery with your bank card using your Instacart account.
However, there are a few tricky things with food delivery. While the services we discussed above work worldwide, grocery shopping is organized differently around the globe. For example, Instacart only works in the US and Canada - and here you can find out if they operate in your area. If they don’t, you can search for a different food delivery service in your city on Google.
What’s more, now that many people are staying at home, food delivery for seniors has become very popular. Sometimes, a grocery shopping service may be unavailable - this is not your fault, you’ll just need to wait for a delivery slot to become available or try an alternative service.
How to start using Instacart?
- Click here to go to the Instacart website
- Enter your address or zip code to find out whether Instacart can deliver goods to your home
- If it can, register with your email address or Facebook account (see sections 2 and 3 above to learn how to create one of them)
- After creating an account, you can use Instacart anytime by going to instacart.com on your computer
- Click on a store you want to shop at
- Search for the goods you need. Click on the item to learn more about it, then click on a Plus button nearby to add it to your online shopping cart
- When you’ve got all you need, click on the Cart button in the upper right corner of your screen
- Fill in all the information requested on the following page, then click the Place order button
- Follow further instructions
Instacart security tips
- Be careful with your credit card information. Don’t let others do online shopping for you unless you really trust them. A fraudster may redirect your deliveries to their own address or use your credit card number for their own shopping
- Monitor your expenses. When receiving a credit card, you’ll usually get a way of tracking your expenses through an online service. We’ll talk about it below in more detail. If you see any unfamiliar charges when you track your expenses, you need to call your bank immediately and find out if someone used your card fraudulently
5. Let’s buy something: How to use Amazon
What is it?
On Amazon, you can shop for a great variety of goods, such as clothes, books, household appliances, pet supplies, and more. Just as with Instacart, you’ll need to create an account and pay for your purchases online. You’ll also have your items delivered to your home.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer so it’s likely you’ll be able to order from whenever you’re at. Still, the coronavirus crisis has affected its operations as well, so your deliveries might be delayed.
How to start using Amazon?
- Click here to go to the Amazon website
- Click on Account & Lists in the upper bar
- On the following page, click on Create your Amazon account
- Provide all the requested information and make sure you create a strong password you don’t use anywhere else
- Next, provide your shipping address and add a credit card you’ll be paying with
- After creating your account, you can use Amazon anytime by going to amazon.com on your computer
- Search for goods in the search bar on top of the page
- Click on a product in a list to learn more about it
- Click on the Add to cart button if you want to buy a product. You can add multiple products to your cart
- When you’ve added all you need, click the Cart icon in the upper right corner
- Check your order and click on the Proceed to checkout button
- Check or add shipping and payment details, then finally click on the Place your order button
- In the upper bar, click on Returns & Orders to track your packages
Amazon security tips
- Avoid scams. Fraudsters may email or call you impersonating Amazon staff. They may offer you discounted goods or tell you that your account has been hacked. Be very careful about these situations and do your best to verify the contact’s identity before proceeding. Check out this list of Amazon scams to make sure you’re aware of the most common ones.
- Prevent package theft. 36% of the US shoppers experienced theft of packages from their porches at least once. To avoid it, request delivery for the time when you’re home or buy a lockbox for deliveries.
6. Let’s pay bills: How to use online banking
What is it?
If you have a bank account, you can easily learn how to pay bills online. Yes, you can make loan payments, deal with power and cable bills, and top up your mobile account from the comfort of your home.
To explain further, we’ll go through the process using Bank of America as an example but the steps are pretty similar with all banks. Don’t worry, online banking for seniors is not that hard!
How to pay bills online with Bank of America?
- Click here to go to the Bank of America website
- In the red box, enter your online ID and passcode, then click on the Sign In button
- Go to Bill Pay tab > Payment Center
- Get your bill copy and enter its information by clicking on Add a Company or Person
- You can search for companies or enter a company manually by clicking on Other Company
- Enter the payment amount and select payment date
- Repeat it for all the companies you need to pay
- Click on Make Payments
- You can also set up automatic payments, schedule reminders, and request electronic statements with the respective buttons.
You can also watch a video version of this guide.
Online banking security tips
- Set up mobile notifications. Many banks offer to send you alerts about activities on your account. If you get a notification about money withdrawal or a payment you didn’t make, contact your bank immediately
- Check your bank statements regularly. In addition to mobile alerts, make a habit of going into your online bank account to review your transactions. Similarly, if you see something suspicious, contact your bank
- Do not follow email links to your bank’s website. Type your bank’s online address every time instead. As in the other cases above, these kind of emails can often come from scammers who want to access your personal details or money
7. Let’s watch a TV show: How to use Netflix
What is it?
Netflix is a film and TV streaming service allowing you to access numerous movies, TV programs, and more. It is similar to a cinema - but you have it on your computer and you pay a monthly fee instead of buying individual “tickets”.
While it is mostly oriented at younger audiences, for seniors, Netflix can be a great way to organize a joint pastime with children and grandkids when they come to visit. And what’s more, Netflix offers a lot of shows older adults will like too.
How to start using Netflix?
- Click here to go to Netflix website
- Click Sign in or enter your email address and click on Try 30 days free if this option is available in your country
- Choose the plan you want to subscribe to, then create your account
- Provide your email and create a strong password you don’t use anywhere else
- Next, add a credit card you’ll pay with
- Choose a device you will use for watching Netflix
- After creating your account, you can watch Netflix anytime by going to netflix.com
- Click on your profile to start
- Look through featured shows or click on Browse to see all categories. Alternatively, click on the Search icon (a “magnifying glass”) in the upper right corner and look for a title, genre, or actor
- Click a title to open its details, then click on Play to start watching
Netflix security tips
- Beware of scams. During the coronavirus pandemic, scammers tried to spread fake messages about free Netflix passes to lure people into giving up their personal information. Learn how to react to suspicious emails claiming to be from Netflix
- Don’t reuse your passwords. If you accidentally fall for a scam and give away your Netflix password, a hacker will be able to break into your account. But if you used the same password for your email or banking service, this attack might get worse. So be careful and use unique passwords for all your accounts
And if something feels complicated or goes wrong, be sure to contact the Clario support team! We’re here and ready to help you with your daily tasks online!
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