Technology and the internet

The internet is a global computer network that allows you to access information and tools other people have uploaded and created. It can be confusing for people who have never learnt how to use computers or technology, but there are several resources available to help you learn how to use online resources. Using the internet and being online offers many benefits, including: 

  • Being able to access any information 24/7
  • Letting you pay bills, send emails (virtual letters), book appointments, and more
  • Saving you money, such as saving on postage by using email, or getting discounts from paying bills online
  • Helping you make and maintain vital relationships with friends and family through online video and chat platforms
  • Enhancing your sense of value within your community through participation in local online community noticeboards, neighbourhood pages, and local governmental communications
  • Offering more independence to people who may otherwise need assistance with doing tasks and staying social

With computer and internet technology developing at a fast rate, it can be a struggle to keep up. Some places in New Zealand like local Age Concerns and SeniorNet offer classes to help improve your confidence and skills on the computer and with cell phones. There are also many resources online that can help you improve your computer skills, resources such as Digital Learn or this guide to resources for engaging in technology can be a great place to start. Otherwise contact your local Age Concern to see if there are any computer or technology learning classes in your area.

Simplified technology also exists and may be worth researching:

  • Medical alarm: A device which when pressed, connects to call takers for medical assistance
  • KitCal: A tablet designed for older adults to stay connected with whānau/family and friends
  • Big Buttons: Provider of easy-to-use technology

Avoiding scams

Scams using technology are often attempting to deceive someone into giving money or personal information to another person. Scams may occur on the internet, such as through email or social media, or by phone call. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify what is a scam and what is real, and often scams are designed to look like a real business or organisation contacting you. Some common types of scams include:

  • Cold calls
  • Tech support calls
  • Email phishing
  • Fake invoice scams
  • Fake social media competitions
  • Romance scams
  • Unwanted subscriptions and trials

You can find out more about different types of scams on the CERT website and at New Zealand Police.
It is best to approach any new or unexpected contact with caution in case it is a scam. Netsafe has tips for avoiding scams and improving internet safety, including:

  • Always be wary when giving out bank account details, phone numbers, birthdates, and driver’s license details
  • You should never give out login details or passwords. Organisations will never ask for the passwords to your online accounts
  • Never give your bank details without a secure banking site. Organisations will never ask for payment through email
  • Look out for time pressure, such as emails telling you that your account will be closed if you do not take immediate action
  • Be wary if you are contacted out of the blue, even if they claim to be from a known organisation
  • Make sure that the phone number or email that you have been contacted from is listed on the organisations’ official website or in the phone book
  • Do not open attachments or unknown links unless you know it will not be a scam
  • Use different and difficult to guess passwords for your different accounts

You can find more tips for internet safety at Netsafe.


RealMe is a tool developed by the Department of Internal Affairs to make it easier for people and organisations to confirm identity online. A RealMe account is a secure verified account that can prove a person’s identity on the internet, much like a passport or drivers license can confirm identity in person. Many government organisations and popular services such as IRD, ACC, MSD (including applying for NZ Super online), and local governments use RealMe to confirm your identity before letting you use their online services. To learn how to set up a RealMe account, visit the RealMe website.

Websites of interest

  • CERT offers guides and information on improving your internet security
  • If you are aware of a scam, you can report it to Netsafe
  • Netsafe offers advice for staying safe online for older people
  • You can find your local SeniorNet branch through their website