Helping Senior Citizens Feel Comfortable Using Online Services

The ratio of daily internet users under the age of 65 to users over 65 is staggering. A report by Pew Internet states that 56% of individuals over 65 are active on the web whereas other adult demographics beat this statistic with an overwhelming 86% or higher.  Technology is now inseparable from nearly all facets of everyday life and this divide may alienate seniors from vital activities. Yet at the same time, it can turn every visit of friends and family members into a QA session on how to help seniors delegate routine tasks to online services.

Problem 1: Health conditions make tech use challenging

Health issues can definitely hold seniors back from beginning to explore what the internet has to offer. Reading, typing, tapping and scrolling is a different experience for anyone with poor eyesight or arthritis. However, there are a couple options available for easing into the learning process. First, modify browser settings (or the operating system) so that the text is magnified. Almost every device has built-in technology for recognizing gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. If that isn’t an option, you can always download additional software for enlarging icons and text. Voice recognition is another option that eliminates typing and clicking from a large portion of the online experience.

Problem 2: Missing out on important information without internet access

It’s almost impossible to explain to seniors how much they’re missing when they refuse to go online until they experience it for themselves. Present proof the moment you tell them what they’re missing out on, otherwise you’ll be shut down with a mixture of irony and stubbornness. Pew Internet’s research team estimates that 52% of seniors believe they’re not missing out on anything without internet access.

A great way to make them question this belief is to ask, “When was the last time you saw recent pictures of your grandchildren?” – and show them recent posts on social media. Or, “When was the last time you spoke with your college roommate?” – and start a Facetime call with an old friend. Or show them around their hometown on Google Earth. Finding a means to create an emotional connection to the internet will encourage them to try something new.

Problem 3: Online threats for newcomers

While the traps of identity thieves have become easier to spot, being tricked into a scam when you’re new to a service is still a real danger. Becoming acquainted with email and social media requires a serious talk about online security. One way to warn seniors about an online hoax is to come up with a list of spammy phrases: ‘your account will be closed’, ‘hot deal/prices/million percent off on your prescribed medications’, ‘you won a free vacation at Aruba, all you have to do is…’.

It’s also important to tell seniors about fake emails from their banks requesting personal information or SSN’s. Other dangers include accidentally clicking on an advertisement or phishing link. Anyone that opens an unfamiliar link needs to know how to prevent any potentially harmful consequences.

Problem 4: Dealing with documents online

Senior citizens often treat electronic signatures with caution: they avoid signing documents online because it either doesn’t seem like a proper legally-binding tool for paperwork, or the interface for completing a simple signing is too complicated (or both). While businesses, banks and state agencies move to the cloud, only a simple easy-to-use solution can help senior citizens adapt to new systems.

With SignNow, you get both an elegant and intuitive application as well as legally-binding e-signatures available on any device. It takes three simple steps to add a signature to a document in SignNow: upload your document, add a Signature Field, then type, draw or upload an image of your signature and that’s it. There’s no need to create a new signature every time you have to sign a document. Your signature will be saved automatically for future use. You can also sign documents offline on your mobile device as well as fill them out or send them out for signature.