Parents Online – Who’s Guiding the Silver Surfers?

If you are a child of the 70s and early 80s, it’s a pretty good assumption to make that your computer use at school was minimal.  Your IT skills would have been learnt in further education or on the job.  Your parents, on the other hand, would have had no exposure to anything more technical that setting the clock on a microwave oven or programming the video recorder.

Yet, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, the older generation were suddenly plunged into a whole new world of technology.  We don’t know about you, but at SJB our experience of this was both terrifying and entertaining.  All of a sudden, there we were trying to explain alien concepts such as Zoom, internet banking and click-and-collect.

There have been some interesting online calamities:

  • One of our parents has been receiving what they described as ‘random gifts from the Amazon’, when in fact they didn’t understand the ‘buy now’ swiper and its power.
  • Another waited all morning in an online queue to get on the Tesco website in order to place a ‘click and collect’ order, not realising she was in a queue for Tesco Poland.
  • Mobile phones have become quite entertaining and one relative has complete nailed answering a Facetime call, but has absolutely no idea how to make one.

The older generations of our family are often completely unaware of the methods used online by criminals who are trying to steal profitable details and credit card info from them.

Yet with the little experience they have, as more and more services move online, little thought is paid to their lack of skills.  Combine that with automated telephone answering systems where you press 1 for this and 2 for that, and you can understand their frustrations.

So what can we do to help our silver surfers online?

The two main things we can do are to give them guidance on how to safe online, and ensure they have some pretty robust software installed for when they do wander off-piste.

There are lots of websites that can help you plan a chat about the ‘rogues and https’ and most PCs come with something installed these days to ensure they are safe ‘out of the box’.

But here are some useful links;


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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