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Ins and outs of the Internet

By Ryan Lee • Jan 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Technology use is increasing across all generations, especially that of seniors. With more older adults getting on the internet and using computers there are often more questions than answers.

In this article, I’d like to cover a few questions I most commonly get asked from people less experienced with the ins- and outs of the internet, computers and social media.

1. Google it. Want to know more about car repair? How about finances? Maybe you want to order groceries online or read the news. If you can think of it, it’s on the internet. There’s no question too menial or too complex. If you have the time to read up on something you’re interested in, you’ll find the answers on the internet. I will warn you that anyone can create a website so when you’re searching for answers, make sure they’re coming from a credible source. You don’t have to know the exact website name, just Google it and read through the results.

2. Make it easier to read. Whether you’re mapping something on your smartphone or doing some work on your laptop, making devices easier to read goes a long way. No matter what you’re using, there is a way to make the text size larger as well as adjust other useful settings such as brightness. Not being able to read something onscreen easily defeats the whole purpose. Refer to step one and Google how to make your specific device easier to view. You’ll be happy you did.

3. Universal truths about email. We all get a ton of unwanted email from everywhere and keeping up on it can be daunting but deleting email usually isn’t enough. When you receive an email from a company, and you know you’ll never read it, open the email and click on the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom. Doing this will prevent future email from that sender/company. So instead of spending your time looking through email and deleting, you’ll stop it from ever reaching your inbox.

If you’re unsure about the authenticity of an email, DON’T click on any attachments or links within the email. Simply delete it. If it appears to be from your bank but you’re unsure, call them and ask about it. Then delete it. One reasonably certain way to help differentiate valid email from invalid email is to look at the actual email address it was sent from. Many times you’ll quickly see that it’s coming from a bogus email address.

Don’t reply to email from people you don’t know. I’m still amazed that people do this. Whether you don’t want to come across as rude or it’s something else, nothing but bad can come from it. There people out there constantly trying to entice you to reply with their ultimate goal being to steal your personal information. Don’t make it easier for them by replying to email from people you don’t know.

4. Password rules. I know it’s tempting to use the same password for all of your online accounts, but it’s a no-no. In reality, you should have a different password for every online account. If your banking password is the same as your password for some recipe website, you’re at risk. Websites are cracked every day and if you have an account with one of these websites, the one password you use for all of your online accounts can easily get into the wrong hands. That’s why it’s imperative to have unique passwords.

The longer the password the better and you should use a combination of letter, numbers and special characters. If you’re having problems remembering all your unique passwords, you should look into using a password manager like www.lastpass.com. You have one password to remember all of your passwords and it works great.

5. Social Media. Websites like Facebook are centered around communicating with others but be selective with the information you’re sharing. Your cell phone, driver’s license number, and Social Security number are not intended to be part of your sharing experience. Whether your profile is public or private is another factor, but I don’t share this information ever. It would help if you also were skeptical of people sharing their private information with you.

Make these tips part of your routine as well as continuing to learn something every day and you’ll reap the rewards of all this technology.

Ryan Lee is the IT director for the Norwalk Reflector and Sandusky Register. He can be reached at [email protected]

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