Technology and the internet

Using technology can help older people stay connected and involved. Being unable to navigate the World Wide Web (internet) can result in them becoming 'digitally excluded' and put them at a disadvantage, for example they don't have access to cheaper goods and services online and they can miss out on social or educational opportunities.

Benefits of being on-line can include

  • The internet can make tricky, or mobility-dependent tasks simpler: there's no need to go out and post a letter when you have e-mail.
  • There is a wealth of information available on line
  • It is available 24/7
  • The internet helps make and maintain vital relationships
  • The internet can save you money eg in postage
  • The internet levels the "disability/age" playing-field - who knows how old you are, or which bits of you don't quite work any more, when you're on the web?
  • It is "personal" - no one else creates your communication world but you. Too often older people can become dependent on friends, family and even strangers for transport, letter-posting, bill-paying, or meeting new people, after a lifetime of independence and control.
  • Introduced correctly, learners "cross a fear-barrier" and one good learning experience can lead to another, and another, and another.
  • Improved personal contacts can ease depression/isolation.
  • It can enhance your sense of value within your community by allowing participation via E-mail/online polling/voting which can make your small voice "louder".

Get online savvy

Consumer Affairs has just released a free on-line guide for seniors "Get Online Savvy: a guide for seniors" which focusses on scams that target seniors.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing. They speak to a strong need or desire and they push hard for a natural and automatic human response. Scammers win because they target human vulnerabilities which we all have-an urgent financial need, looking for love online, have some cash to invest, or believe we've won a competition in the post. These are just a few of the online scams that target seniors quite deliberately.
The guide is full of useful tips, real stories from victims of fraud and a rundown of online scams to watch out for.
General tips include:

  • Creating strong and unique passwords when using any online services such as email, online banking, social networking profiles and internet auction accounts
  • Making sure your computer is keep as up-to-date as possible - where possible set your system and software to automatically update
  • If using your computer or smartphone on public Wi-Fi connections you are potentially sharing your information with others on that network. Think twice before using these connections to buy online, check your bank accounts or read sensitive emails
  • Routinely back up your computer or devices

They also emphasis the need to immediately report if you believe that you or someone you know may be a victim of a scam. Report it to
If you are concerned that your computer, smartphone, email, or online accounts have been compromised you can get help from NetSafe, or call 0508 NETSAFE;

If significant amounts of money are involved, or the scam appears to be based in New Zealand, you should also contact your local police station for further advice.

How are seniors using their digital devices?

The study shows some thought-provoking findings, such as the fact that 57% of the participants use a tablet daily and 75% use a computer - which may be higher than expected. Another interesting find is that Skype (video calling) was quite far down the list of desirable functions. Perhaps Grandparents aren't Skyping their Grandchildren as often as we might have thought? Read the article here.

Connect Smart

Connect Smart is a new initiative led by Government in partnership with the private and NGO sectors aimed at promoting better cyber security among New Zealanders. For more information go to


RealMe is a secure, consent-based way to access and share personal information online, developed by Department of Internal Affairs and NZ Post. Currently RealMe has two key jobs. Firstly a login to multiple services, and secondly a verified account working as an online ID. As more services come on board with RealMe, seamless government interactions can be achieved through digital channels and customers' needs will be more easily met as important life events occur.

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