Online safety / March 02, 2022

Embracing digital tech to keep seniors connected

Kimberly Bennett

Kimberly Bennett

Sr. Project Manager, TELUS Wise

Embracing digital tech to keep seniors connected - Image

Many of us have felt firsthand the harmful effects of social isolation in recent months. In fact, more than a third of Canadians say that the pandemic has hurt their mental health. And, according to Statistics Canada, seniors are at the greatest risk of feeling disconnected from family and friends.

Digital technology allows us to keep connected with loved ones, resources, hobby groups, community activities and more, and it’s especially useful if you’re staying home due to COVID-19 restrictions or precautions. While many seniors may still be new to digital tech, adding email, video chat and even social media to your repertoire can help you stay connected and boost feelings of community.

If you’re unsure about the idea of jumping online, we’ve listed a few simple benefits of our digital world, ways you can get connected, resources on how to get started and tips on how to do so safely.

Discover community online

It’s natural for your social circle to shift throughout your life, and over time you may begin to feel more isolated. Leveraging social media and other online community hubs is a great way to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with, develop new circles of friends and drive meaningful social connections. To build new friendships, take part in online groups that bring you joy and offer opportunities to socialize, like an online book club or interest group on Facebook. Through online communities, you'll have the opportunity to discuss common interests, meet people at similar stages and forge connections to help you thrive.

Tip: When meeting new people online, it’s important to keep in mind that people may not always be who they seem behind a screen. Never share personal, private information like your home address or date of birth, and never agree to send someone money under any circumstances.

Reach out digitally

Get in the habit of staying in touch with friends and family through email correspondence, video chat or text message. Rather than waiting for others to reach out, take the initiative to reconnect with loved ones and make it an ongoing commitment. Set a schedule, whether it’s once a month or once a week, for recurring virtual touch points to socialize with grandkids, old friends and colleagues, and family near and far. Having a schedule will also give you something to look forward to on an ongoing basis.

Tip: If you get a suspicious email or text message - even if it appears to be from someone you know - proceed with caution. Many online threats, such as viruses, make their way onto our devices through phishing emails or texts. This video can help you learn how to spot them.

Keep entertained and organized

You can also use technology to simplify many day-to-day tasks – like setting reminders for appointments (like scheduling virtual touch points mentioned above), accessing healthcare resources, and even online shopping. Through a smartphone, tablet or computer, there are also endless entertainment opportunities. You can use these devices to watch TV shows, read a book, search for new recipes, play games, and check the weather.

Tip: Though there are many great perks to going digital, always ensure you’re balancing screen time activities with offline activities to maintain a healthy and balanced relationship with technology.

Learn the ropes

If you’re totally new to using digital technology, there are some great resources to help you learn the ropes. TELUS Wise online basics is a series of videos offered free-of-charge that helps people who are just getting started with digital technology to learn basic, everyday digital skills like connecting to the internet, setting up an email account, surfing the web and using video chat. These short videos cover multiple topics and are a great educational resource to help empower seniors, and Canadians of all ages, to navigate our digital world.

Keep safety in mind

When you navigate our digital world it’s important to do so safely to help protect your privacy and wellbeing and ensure you have a positive experience online. TELUS Wise is a free digital literacy program that helps keep Canadians safe online. Just like in our physical world, in our digital world there are safety precautions and threats that we need to be aware of. The TELUS Wise seniors guide is a great free resource offering tips on smartphone, social media, online gaming safety tips and more.

If you face financial barriers that prevent you from connecting to the world around you through technology, there are TELUS programs that can help.

  • For seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, there is the TELUS Mobility for Good for Seniors program which provides discounted smartphones and low-cost wireless plans
  • TELUS Internet for Good for Seniors provides low-cost, high-speed internet for low-income seniors in Alberta, BC and Quebec, along with the option to purchase a discounted computer.
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