The internet is an empowering tool that can help you to access services, find information, and stay connected to friends and loved ones. You have a right to services and information to help you to access the internet safely. Many older people missed out on the digital revolution so some services have been developed specifically for older people who want to develop internet skills. This chapter provides information about internet services and support, and explains the help that is available to you.
12.1 Help using the internet
Some older people think that they have missed the opportunity to learn to use the internet or they fear they will not be able to pick up new technologies. If you would like to learn to use the computer or improve your skills, you can access services that are designed for older online learners. It is never too late to learn. There are services that can help you to access the internet and provide you with training and assistance alongside your peers.
Broadband for Seniors provides older people with free access to computers and personalised training to develop computer skills or to access the internet. There are approximately 2000 kiosks across Australia.
Free training and ongoing support is provided by volunteer tutors, either individually or in small groups. Some of the training topics include: how to use a computer; how to access the internet; sending emails; using Skype to keep in touch with family and friends; and staying safe online. Many of the volunteer tutors are also older people who have benefitted from the services and support provided at a Broadband for Seniors kiosk.
Seniors Computer Clubs can help you learn and develop computer skills. They also provide access to computers and the internet. The Seniors Computer Clubs are for people over the age of 50. The clubs are non-profit volunteer organisations encouraging seniors to learn together. There is generally a joining cost for club membership and a small fee for each learning session that you attend.
Many Council libraries provide free internet access and some provide free internet and computer training courses for library members. Check your local library to find out what is on offer.
Many TAFEs, U3As, Centres for Adult Education and other Vocational Education and Training organisations offer short introductory computer and internet courses. Check to see if they offer a course that suits you. Some will be targeted to beginners and others will be more advanced courses about different digital topics. These courses are generally provided at a cost to you. Check your local course providers to find out what is on offer and compare course prices.
Where to go for help
Contact the Broadband for Seniors helpline on 1300 795 897 or visit their website at www.necseniors.net.au.
The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association can put you in touch with a local Seniors’ Computer Club. Phone 02 9286 3871.
12.2 Staying safe on the internet
The internet is a large part of public life. It is a place where you can interact with friends and family, find information and transact business. As with other areas of public life, it holds certain risks. Internet users need to ensure the security and safety of their personal information.
It is necessary to be vigilant about your online security, as some people use the internet to obtain your personal details, including your bank account details. They can use false webpages and emails to trick you into giving away personal details, or they can create viruses that gather information from your computer. Protect yourself with these practical steps:
- Install security software;
- Think before you click on links and attachments;
- Talk to someone about anything online that makes you uncomfortable;
- Think before you put personal information online; and
- Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
Meeting and interacting with people over the internet is less personal than meeting in person. Scammers sometimes use the internet to get to know you before requesting money or assistance. Be cautious about people who you meet online. For more information about scams see chapter 5.2.
Where to go for more information
Contact Stay Smart Online by calling 1800 753 178. Visit www.staysmartonline.gov.au for more practical tips and fact sheets. You can also order a copy of their booklet, Protecting Yourself Online.
Where to go for help or to make a complaint
Visit the Cyber Safety website to access help, report anything you’ve seen online and learn more about online safety at www.cybersafety.dbcde.gov.au.
Download the free Cybersafety Help Button onto your computer. You can click the button whenever you are online to take you to a website that will tell you where to find help. Visit www.dbcde.gov.au/helpbutton to download.
If you have been the victim of an online scam contact the SCAMwatch Infocentre on 1300 795 995.