When people in their 60’s were born there were no computers. The Internet was merely an idea on the mind of some of the science fiction writers of the time and daily life took place on the street: shopping, banking, human relationships, etc. However,

over the last 30 years technology has invaded our personal lives, helping us better manage our daily tasks. Children born in recent years are part of the first generation to have literally grown up digital. In contrast, previous generations have had to adapt to this new environment, with all the problems this poses for seniors.

90% of Internet users over 60 are male and spend more than five hours a week online, mostly checking their email (98%), looking for information on leisure activities (67%), reading the news (64%) or banking online (58%). These are some of the results of the Internet usage survey conducted by Panda Security, The Cloud Security Company, within its “Internet in Safe Hands” security awareness campaign available at http://protectyourfamily.pandasecurity.com.

The study, carried out between November and December 2010, surveyed 16,850 Internet users over 60 about their favorite Web activities as well as the main problems they face to adapt to this new digital environment.

Using social networks or actively participating on forums or blogs are not among senior citizens’ favorite activities, as they see them as tools for younger people. They massively prefer email to talk to friends and family (98%) rather than social networking sites (only 28% use them), forums or blogs (11%).

66% of elderly people claim to have average Internet knowledge, whereas 74% feel safe when surfing the Web. 22% use online training resources to increase their technological knowledge.

Also, 54% of users over 60 shop online, with travel packages as the preferred purchase option (62%). Second come software (56% of cases) and music, movies, etc (46%). Food is the least purchased item (10% of cases only).

Internet: An elder-friendly place?

When asked about the main problems they experience shopping online, the most common answer was how difficult it is for them to identify safe, trusted sites to buy from (64%); The second difficulty is to create strong, easy-to-remember passwords (51%), followed by using payment platforms for online shopping (44%). 41% of silver surfers say they use the same password for all their online accounts due to the difficulty of remembering various credentials.

The fourth most important problem is actually finding the information they look for (27%), together with filling out online forms (33%). Other difficulties have to do with website usability (font size and style), connectivity problems, slow broadband connections and the definition of some of the products and services offered on websites.

As for the most dangerous threats on the Web, the most common answer is virus infections (92%); followed by identity theft (83%), more precisely, theft of email credentials and banking data. Spam is also a source of concern for them (57% of cases), as well as the security of banking transactions (50%). Oddly enough, 30% of senior citizens are worried about contacting strangers and 11% are scared of cyber-bullies.

When asked whether they know how to protect themselves from Internet dangers, 59% of them say they are not too sure about it, although they do take some precautionary measures to increase their safety. Avoiding visiting unfamiliar websites (26%), and having an up-to-date antivirus are two of the top good practices they put in place (but only in 15% of cases). 4% say they have a firewall installed and enabled, and 6% browse the Web for the latest security news, tips and recommendations.

Grandchildren on the Web + Grandparents’ Computers = Danger

The hectic rhythm of daily life sometimes makes parents leave children with their grandparents. 13% of seniors over 60 acknowledge the fact that minors use their home computers. When questioned whether they know their grandchildren’s online activities, 42% acknowledge to doing so whereas 39% only know them partly and 18% know almost nothing about them.

45% of kids using their grandparents’ computers do it for chatting, a circumstance known to them. 53% of them even know who children are chatting with.

“Internet in Safe Hands” Campaign

Panda Security’s “Internet in Safe Hands” campaign aims to educate and raise awareness on Internet security as well as protecting the whole family. The campaign focuses on increasing the safety of teenagers, parents and silver surfers by enhancing their knowledge through simple, easy-to-understand contents.

Each area of the website deals with the main difficulties, threats and risks posed to each age group on the Web. Our simple tips aim to increase Internet users’ confidence. The website also contains resources to help users understand the concept of online security and protect themselves, like free courses on viruses and other computer threats, guides in PDF format ready to print and download, etc.

More information at http://protectyourfamily.pandasecurity.com