How to Help an Aging Loved One Adapt to the Internet

Lots of seniors are using the Internet, and it’s having a great impact on their lives.

According to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of adults 65 and older go online, and 71 percent of those seniors use the Internet at least once a day.

They use it to communicate with family and friends (66 percent), shop (58 percent) and access health information (53 percent). Yet, this data also reveals that some 41 percent of seniors still aren’t online—and they’re missing out on the benefits. If you know an older adult who doesn’t use the Internet but should, here are some ways you can help them get online.

Help Them Choose The Right-Sized Device

The first obstacle to getting online is finding a device that’s easy to use, and there’s no one device that’s right for all seniors. Some seniors need large monitors due to poor eyesight, which would limit their choices to desktops and laptops. Others are intimidated by the size of a desktop and would be more comfortable with a tablet, or possibly even a smartphone.

To help a senior find a device they like, bring several different devices over to their home or have them come over to your home. Try to bring a laptop, tablet and smartphone. If possible, find a way to show them a desktop computer, too.

Show your loved one a few pictures and websites on each device, and let them try typing and navigating with a mouse. This hands-on experience will help them decide what kind of device they prefer without overwhelming them with lots of choices at a store.

Choose a Simple Operating System

Once they’ve selected the size of the device they like, pick out an easy-to-use operating system for them. While you may choose your operating system based on power and performance, the best operating system for a senior who is just starting out online is usually one that’s easy to maintain.

After all, seniors who aren’t online likely won’t need all the power of Windows or Apple’s operating systems. In fact, these complex operating systems may be overwhelming and turn a senior off to the Internet. Compare these behemoths alongside lighter operating systems, like ChromeOS, Android and iOS to see which is the easiest to maintain and most intuitive, while still doing everything that your senior will want to do.

Adjust the Basic Settings to Meet Their Needs

As you help with the initial setup of a device, adjust the standard settings so the device is as easy for your loved one to use as possible. Depending on their unique needs, you may want to increase the standard font size and make the volume louder. If you adjust the volume, write down where the volume button is so they can turn it down if they come across a loud advertisement or video.

Bookmark Their Most-Used Websites

Pew Research Center’s data shows that seniors are most interested in going online for a few basic purposes, and especially to connect with friends and family. To help your older loved one get where they want to go on the Internet, bookmark the websites they’re most likely to use. These may include:

  • Their email
  • Facebook
  • Any blogs that family members have
  • Any photo-sharing sites family members use

As someone who’s already online, all of these tips may seem very basic. For seniors who aren’t familiar with the Internet, though, these simple steps can be daunting. If you know anyone 65 or over who isn’t online yet, help simplify the entire process for them. Before you know it, they may be heading online every day.

55 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Rebecca Gouge
Rebecca Gougeabout a year ago

Thank you.

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heather g.
heather g1 years ago

I loved the way a previous elderly neighbour was introduced to the internet. As she signed on, she could look at a choice of several family photos. The family made sure she received regular emails and could compare jokes. She was 85 at the time and adapted immediately....

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Carol S.
Carol S1 years ago

Good advice!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Debbi -.
Debbi -1 years ago

'Child proofing' the computer so they won't attract charities, etc. would be helpful. If you teach someone how to get online, please also teach them what to be wary of or avoid. There are a lot of pitfalls and criminals out there trying to defraud anyone and everyone, especially trusting people.

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Anne Moran
Anne M1 years ago

Watch Grandpa doesn't get ripped off by some fraudster on the internet...

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W1 years ago

Very informative. Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W1 years ago

I am sel taught and just love being on the net especially Care2. Thank you for caring and sharing

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