February 8, 2017
Canadians are spending more time online and seniors are no exception, with Public Safety Canada citing that approximately 70 percent go online every day. The internet has become a popular source of entertainment and, according to Stats Canada, playing games is the second-most popular online leisure activity among older adults.
While online gaming can be a fun way to pass time or connect with others, it’s important to remember that games could be a facade for malicious software that can collect personal information for financial gain.
“Just like you would take precautions to protect a home from criminals, you should be thinking about protecting your senior loved one the same way when gaming online,” says Mark Matz, Director of Policy and Issues Management with the National Cyber Security Directorate at Public Safety Canada. “Be sure that a gaming website is reputable and legitimate before you play.”
Here are a few tips from Public Safety Canada on how you can help your senior loved one safely focus on getting to the next level of their favourite game:
- It can be difficult to tell if a gaming website or download is actually an infected file. Installing a firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus software will help keep your senior’s computer safe when playing games online and offline. When installing a new game, it’s good practice to make sure you set up automatic updates so your senior loved one always has the latest version to help protect against hackers.
- Cyber criminals are good at making their scams look legitimate. Remind them that if they’re not sure what something is to not click on it, even if it looks interesting. Bad grammar and misspelled words in a website’s address or its web page is one sign of a scam. Another is receiving a pop-up saying they’ve won something, even though they haven’t entered a contest.
- It’s important not to share any information that may make them a target to cyber criminals. Make sure your senior loved one doesn’t use their full name or any words that give clues to their location or age. Remind them not to give out any personal information, even their email, while chatting with strangers on gaming websites. It’s also best to set their profiles to private. Remind them they should only be connecting and sharing with people they know in real life.
- For people who didn’t grow up with the internet, it can be difficult to navigate all the pop-ups and flashy offers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be especially cautious of contests that pop up suddenly, and that if they can’t validate the contest with a link to a trusted website, they should ignore it. Lastly, make sure they know that in Canada there is no such thing as taxes or fees to receive a legitimate prize. Anyone asking for money online should be reported.
In addition, more older adults are entering the online dating world. Learn more about how you can help seniors protect themselves.
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