I’m sorry Nanna, you haven’t won a million $$$ on the net
My grandma will never own a computer.
She has a mobile phone, one with a flip screen that her kids and grandkids have programmed contacts into. Lately she has become a big texter, messaging grandkids to see how they went at footy or whether they want her to pick them up from school.
But the family probably won’t get her a computer. Logic is she doesn’t need or, really, want one. Besides, she’s got plenty of people who are happy to look things up for her. It’d be a challenge to teach her computers - the learning process would be long, the jargon difficult. And there’d be big questions about her security online.
Viruses. Identity theft. Accidentally sending all her retirement savings to a man in Nigeria, like the Cooma livestock farmer who got jailed earlier this year for advancing $3.7 million to a Nigerian.
Seniors are more likely fall prey to such scenarios online than younger people. And the Federal Government has been trying to figure out how to tackle the issue of late, with an inquiry into seniors’ cybersecurity.
But while plenty of interest groups have entered submissions, it’s this one-page, chickenscrawled letter from Ken Smith, 80, that’s most worth a read:
My submission to the above inquiry is about being marginalised by the internet.
Hand written correspondence is treated as a joke, all correspondence now must be by e/mail.
Most advertising fails to show an address or phone number including the (the) add for this inquiry, at least it has a phone number.
I am 80 years of age not interested in computers and slightly illiterate.
When seeking information by phone on a range of everyday issues most of the answers offered by computer operatives are poor or inconclusive.
The answer is we do not have a program covering that question, common sense has been destroyed if is not on a screen.
Previously on The Punch: Jason Tin on old people who do badass things.
Who realised that putting an email address on a contact form but not a postal address was causing people to fall out of touch? Ken’s problem is one often overlooked: many seniors don’t have the means or knowledge to use the World Wide Web, period. They’re missing out, and some feel left behind.
Meanwhile, those that are getting online are finding that the world wide web is sticky and there’s a lot of spiders out there.
“The biggest problem is that [older people] are more trusting than other people,” says Nigel Phair from the Centre for Internet Security. For instance, when a typical pop-up appears announcing: “CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! YOU’RE THE 999,999th VISITOR TO THE SITE! CLICK HERE FOR A MILLION DOLLARS!” they’re more inclined to believe it.
And with no prior knowledge of what an internet threat looks like, why wouldn’t you? “Their antennae’s just not up, they haven’t grown up with it, they don’t realise that it’s too good to be true,” says Phair.
It also doesn’t help that the cyber environment is constantly evolving.
For instance, the regional product manager for the anti-virus company Norton, David Hall, says malicious threats are now being delivered to mobile phones. Via downloaded apps like these ones Symantec discovered, and even through text messages.
“Cyber-crime is an invisible crime,” Hall says, joking that he “won” 10 million pounds in a UK lottery recently. On the streets at night you can see who’s mugging you, he says. On the net, you can’t, so it’s far easier to be taken for a mug.
Getting more seniors on the net is a positive goal. More seniors should be made aware of the free computer literacy classes funded by the government. As wanky and bureaucratic as the word “empower” can be, the net can empower older people. It opens up access to services like banking that are more online than not nowadays.
It can stop people from being isolated from a society that’s collectively entered a staring contest with their smartphones.
Just look at Eva Woodrow. Queensland’s Courier-Mail reported last year on the 101-year-old, believed Australia’s oldest Facebook user. Maybe even a Punch reader.
God help me if my Nanna got into the comments on The Punch. Wouldn’t want to take her on in an argument.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…