As a social media manager and writer with many years of online experience — dog years, of course, because everyone knows one internet year equals seven in real life — I’m well equipped to ensure that my son begins creating his digital footprint safely. At thirteen, he’s already legit next level obvi (teen speak) tech-savvy, so it's only a matter of time before he's showing me what to do. But for now, I’m teaching him to surf safely like it’s my job. Because it is.
My parents on the other hand? Their digital footprint is more of a cha-cha, which usually ends up with me reminding them that "No, 'qwerty' is NOT a safer password than 123456!" or "Yes dad, you CAN change your ringtone." He somehow set his ringtone to "Feliz Navidad" and it stayed like that for two years. When his phone rang in the summer it was like (Mexican) Christmas in July. Mind you, my dad’s phone doesn’t ring often since it's off most of the time..."To save the battery." Ask my mother how she felt about that when she lost him at the mall last week for forty-five minutes. (She's smiling in the photo, but trust me, there were "words.")
My dad finally “figured out” how to change the ringer (ten bucks says he pressed a button by accident). His ringtone is now the Graduation March. So now, whenever his phone rings, I feel like I should toss my hat in the air or make a speech about the future of my generation.
Speaking of generations, I feel somewhat sandwiched between two: my kids, who I’m trying to protect from the underbelly of the internet, and my parents, who like the rest of their senior buddies, are trying to stay in the loop and keep connected by way of tech.
Plus, I'm watching them, always watching...
But my parents, who's watching them? (Besides that one creepy neighbour who peers out his window all day.)
My parents are no dummies. They know things. Lots of things. Just not so much about tech because tech is tricky. The minute you have a handle on it, it goes and changes on you. Like fashion. I can't keep up. So, ripped jeans are back in? Good, because I'm wearing torn jeans. Not because I'm on trend, but because I tripped on the hose and fell on the driveway.
I try to help my parents figure it all out as best I can. Mostly to keep them safe, and partly to stop the panicked phone calls and hilariously auto-corrected text questions.
When my mom phones me and says, "Lisa, your dad clicked on something and now there's something weird on our screen!" I tell her to read this... (and no, you didn't win a free cruise. I got the same email).
When I logged onto my parent's computer and saw they had Internet Explorer set as their web browser, I felt a little dizzy. A time warp back to the nineties will do that. So I downloaded a new browser from this decade and reminded them to keep their browser in check (this is when my mother makes a joke about getting her eyebrows waxed....the apple doesn't fall from the tree, obviously). It's important to have the latest version of your browser installed and configured to provide the best security and privacy. And, make sure to empty your cache (this is where my dad will pretend to empty his wallet...apple and tree again) and history at least once a month.
When my mom was ready to upgrade to a new phone, I told her to wipe it before turning it in. Before she could say anything I told her, "No, not with a moist wet wipe." Be sure to remove all personal data (documents, apps, photos, etc.) before recycling or giving away your phone.
I can't always help because as my mom claims, I'm the "B word." Busy. (My mom rarely calls me a bitch unless I'm being very, very naughty. ) So this is why I suggested they sign up for a TELUS WISE Senior’s workshop. All elements of the program are free-of-charge and available to all Canadians. If you want to book a TELUS WISE Senior's workshop for your community group, email them and set up a session!
And finally, if you watch this video and recognize your parents, just go ahead and sign them up for a workshop. Or at least send them an electronic copy of the senior's guide because it's only a matter of time before they click a link about buying some cheap swamp land in Florida.