How to senior proof a computer?

Learn practical tips on how to make computer use safe and easy for seniors while avoiding online trolls and scams.

3 min read

For aging adults struggling with declining vision and cognitive abilities, it can be overwhelming to get used to modern computers. Fortunately, with simple adjustments, computers can be more senior-friendly, and older adults can enjoy browsing and using social media platforms on their computers.

You can senior-proof a computer by enhancing visual elements, improving input methods, organizing the computer screen, and installing an effective antivirus software. Also, educate your senior family members on backing up files using cloud storage and using protective casing to prevent computer damage.

How to senior proof a computer

Senior-proofing a computer not only increases its usability but also makes it safe to use. Here are some tweaks you can implement:

Make visual elements senior-friendly

A computer with small elements can be challenging for older adults to use. Enlarge the font size to a comfortable level to make reading more accessible, especially if your loved one uses the computer to read and type. Also, enhance the icon size on the desktop to make it easier for seniors to locate and access the icons. If the computer uses a dull color scheme, you can customize it to improve visibility and reduce strain.

Enhance input methods

Some computers come with small keyboards that can frustrate seniors with declining vision. Replace it with another keyboard with large print and visible keys to make it senior-friendly.

Also, consider the wrist movement when using the mouse. Due to joint problems, seniors sometimes struggle with wrist movements when using the touchpad. In this case, you can opt for the touch screen computer or an ergonomic wrist pad. You can also enable the speech-to-text function to minimize typing, especially when sending emails.

Interface simplification

Non tech-savvy older adults prefer a simple minimalist interface to get things done quickly. A clean minimalist interface makes it easy to find the apps that your senior family member wants to use. Remove unnecessary shortcut icons on the screen and uninstall any programs that are no longer used.

You can keep the screen organized by arranging important apps and documents in a way that is easy to navigate. Pin the basic programs for quick access. You may also consider installing a senior-friendly interface such as Eldy which provides a simple six-button interface for added convenience.

Install a paid anti-virus

Seniors are often vulnerable to malware and other online data scams. A good paid antivirus can prevent seniors from falling victim to malware by detecting and deleting malicious applications. Apart from installing antivirus software, you should enable automatic security updates and schedule periodic manual checks to prevent unforeseeable risks or threats. 

Use cloud storage

Computer accidents such as unintended file deletions can result in the loss of important files and memories. Instead of keeping all your files on the computer storage, you should store the files using cloud storage to secure important files. Cloud storage helps declutter your computer and get a sense of confidence.

Use protective hardware accessories

Older adults sometimes experience computer hardware accidents, such as dropping the computer or spilling fluids. These accidents can be managed by using accessories such as protective cases to protect the computer from normal accidents. A cooling pad can also protect your computer from overheating and improve its lifespan.

How to protect seniors from online computer scams

Seniors who spend considerable time on the computer are vulnerable to online scams. Here are some ways to protect older adults from falling prey to these scams:  

Explain how social media works

If your loved one needs to learn how to navigate social media, teach them how it works first. If they use the computer to chat on Facebook or X, ensure they see every platform's dos and don'ts. Help them understand what to share and what to keep private online. 

Educate them on scam identification

Ensure that your senior knows the red flags to check to avoid falling prey to online scams. Warn them of senior-targeted scams, such as fake giveaways and unrealistic offers. Educate them about online job scams and how to avoid manipulation. You can encourage your loved one to join platforms that expose senior-related scams to keep them updated on recent attempts to scam seniors.

Use secure passwords

Seniors might be drawn to using simple passwords, but it is essential to emphasize using unique passwords to avoid hacking. Use unique passwords that include special characters, mixed letters, numbers, and symbols that are difficult to guess. Show them how to use password managers and secure them from unauthorized users.

Additionally, educate your senior on how to use privacy settings to keep their profile private, and control who sees their personal information. For social media profiles, show them how to protect their information, including logging out of the socials after use.

Encourage fact-checking 

In the current age of information, you should encourage your elderly family members to fact-check the information they find online. Teach them how to verify information and distinguish legitimate government sources from deceptive websites. Take time to discuss relevant events and news that directly impact them, and help them figure out the truth from fake news.

Warn them about oversharing

Educate seniors on sharing personal information online to protect them from cybercriminals. Older adults must know what to keep private, such as physical address, bank account details, Social Security Number, and asset ownership documents. They should also be cautious about sharing health information and publishing personal information online. 

Use monitoring tools

You should monitor how your senior family members use the internet to protect them from potential scams and malicious applications. Some tools like Hootsuite can protect seniors from social media threats.