How to Become a Tech Savvy Baby Boomer

14 Jun 2018

Like it or not, technology has always played a significant role in our lives. But these days, things seem to be moving so fast! It can be daunting trying to keep up with all the new ‘smart’ devices and digital trends, especially for those of us who grew up with typewriters, rotary-dial telephones and rolls of film.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a gadget guru to be tech savvy. You just need to follow a few simple rules that will keep you safe and secure online while still giving you the freedom to stay connected and have fun.

Stay secure

Strong passwords are vital if you want to keep your personal data protected. The best passwords contain a combination of random letters, numbers and symbols and are at least six characters long.

You also need to make sure you maintain different passwords for different software. That way, if hackers crack one password they don’t have access to all your data.

If you have difficulty remembering your passwords, you may want to write them down and store the list somewhere safe, such as with your other personal documents. This is not ideal but it is better than using a single, easy-to-crack password such as the name of your dog or the old favourite: password1234.

Take control of your privacy

When you log onto a new app or website for the first time, you may have noticed that you can choose to login using your Facebook or Google account. This does save you from having to create a new login ID and password but it also means that you have now given the new app/website permission to access your Facebook/Google data. While the social media giants have tightened up their acts lately, it’s still a good idea to look at your privacy settings and make sure you’re happy with who gets to access your data.

Go to the settings tab of each of your social media accounts and locate the privacy settings section. Carefully review the information provided and look at the default settings. If you don’t want your data shared or your face/profile tagged in other people’s posts (for example) make sure you have checked/unchecked the appropriate fields.

Beware of scammers

Social media and online forums allow us to connect with our friends and family all over the world. But they are also a haven for scammers who hide behind fake profiles. These scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated and sometimes it’s hard to spot a fake.

If you receive a connection request from someone you don’t know, be cautious before accepting it. Do they know anyone else within your network of friends? Does their profile look genuine – are there a lot of photos or just one or two, what sort of things have they posted previously? Beware of anyone who asks for money, especially very early on in your relationship. Most importantly, if the situation seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Take a class

Smart phones are amazing devices and they really can make life easier. In fact, if you have a smart phone, these days you can almost get away without having a home computer! You can check your email, share photos on social media, find out the bus timetable, do your banking, keep track of your appointments, etc. Smart phones are also fantastic if you plan on doing some travel in retirement. From navigating around a new city to helping you translate a sign in a foreign language, there’s not much a smart phone can’t do.

Most technology stores provide in-house classes to teach you how to use your new device. These classes are usually free and cater to beginners as well as more active users. Before purchasing a new phone, ask the sales assistant what classes are available and how you can enrol.

There are also numerous technology websites which cater to people over 50. A quick Google or Youtube search will give you access to information and ‘how-to’ videos to help you with just about anything.

Know your plan

However you choose to connect, it’s vital that you know what you’re being charged for, particularly when it comes to mobile devices like phones and tablets. For example, some streaming services, such as music or TV, only work when you’re online. If you’re not connected to wifi, then these services will tap into your mobile data, which can add up quickly.

This is particularly important if you’re heading overseas. Make sure you pre-purchase an international data plan or switch off mobile data on your devices. If you’re not careful, you could be charged huge fees for just posting on Facebook or checking your emails.

When purchasing your device, find out what plans are available and how much data is included. The salesperson can provide you with a good guide as to how much data you need, based on your current use. Consider bundling your home internet and mobile data or find out if there are other discounts offered by your telco provider.

When you are at home, connect your mobile devices to your home internet. You can set your phone to remember certain wifi networks, so you don’t need to log-in every time. And when you’re out and about take advantage of the free wifi available in cafes, hotels or other locations.