Safety in the cybersphere: 5 smartphone dangers threatening senior citizens
Help the older adult in your life take full advantage of technology by ensuring they are aware of potential pitfalls and help them engage in responsible use.
With Digital Age culture in full force, eye contact and occasions of quiet time have become dying arts amongst technologically savvy smartphone owners who prefer scrolling to small talk. While smartphones have become an everyday part of life for people of all ages–including older adults, keeping potential risks on your radar could help ward off tech-neck and bank-account-draining scams. If you’re ready to confront these hazards head-on, you’ll want to keep these specific smartphone dangers in mind.
Predispositions to smartphone addictions
Smartphone addiction has become common in today’s world. Though adolescents are the first group that comes to mind, seniors may be the most smartphone-addicted population to date. This demographic is particularly active on Facebook, which should come as no surprise to those users whose Facebook walls have been plastered with quick hellos and happy birthday messages from Grandma and Grandpa.
However, smartphone use can quickly go overboard. Smartphone addiction can lead to decreased neural function and slowed reaction time, a drop in mental health, and a withdrawal from everyday life.
Spending too much time on smartphones is the cause of many physical problems.
“Tech neck” is one of those problems, or back and neck pain that results from hours and hours of bending over to look at phones. “Text Claw” is another, and it refers to inflammation and stiffness in hands because of texting and scrolling.
If your senior is experiencing either of these physical ailments, it’s a sign that they should cut down on their smartphone usage.
Unfortunately, older adults may be at increased risk for smartphone scams. In many cases, they don’t know how to avoid mobile app scams or text message scams, many of which can appear legitimate.
Your loved one must know not to open or answer unknown text messages. They should also avoid responding to texts saying they’ve won something, like sweepstakes that they didn’t enter.
Emotional problems are another danger for senior citizens. Too much exposure to phones, tablets, and social media may be the culprit of depression and self-esteem issues. Excessive smartphone usage may also lead to social isolation in older adults.
Additionally, the validation that people seek from social media likes can be especially damaging to their well-being. Seeing other people’s well-curated lives may lead to a decline in self-worth, and constantly checking to see what friends and family are doing can become harmful.
It’s vital to encourage in-person interaction to help combat this problem, especially in seniors who may live alone or be more socially isolated.
Theft of personal information
Seniors may be more likely to store sensitive personal information on their phones, as they often find it convenient to do so.
However, you should explain that storing information like a social security number or credit card number on their smartphone is a bad idea. It’s all too easy for this information to fall into the wrong hands if they lose their phone or if it’s stolen, putting them at serious risk for identity theft.
Seniors are one of many demographics that have benefited from technology, and smartphones can, indeed, enhance their quality of life. Help the older adult in your life take full advantage of technology by ensuring they are aware of potential pitfalls and help them engage in responsible use.