Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications – Accessibility & Aging
Worldwide, a “Silver Tsunami” — an increase in the average age of the population — is occurring. In the U.S. alone, one in five U.S. workers will be 55 or older by 2025. As part of the natural aging process, many older adults experience functional limitations, and can benefit from customizing their computing experiences to better meet their personal needs. Whether in the home, as a tool to stay connected, or in the workplace, to extend a career past what is traditionally considered “retirement age,” accessible technology can help people of all ages and abilities continue to work and play online.
On Sept. 20 in New Orleans, AARP kicked off its annual Life @50+ National Event and Expo. This three-day conference hosts more than 20,000 AARP members and attendees. Given our long-standing commitment to making technology safer and easier to use, Microsoft understands the importance of working with organizations like AARP and attending gatherings like this one. Microsoft is providing resources and guidance, along with demonstrating the accessibility features in our products that help address the needs of individuals age 50 or older. We are also eager to hear from attendees about their online habits and concerns. To that end, the company’s Accessibility & Online Safety Teams are conducting an on-site survey to gauge attendees’ online safety behaviors.
This survey, developed by Microsoft, measures proactive behaviors related to security and safety practices with a 100-point maximum possible score. This year’s survey results from respondents across Canada and the U.S. show that individuals age 50 or older scored 38.7 points on average, nine percentage points higher than younger respondents age 18 to 49. Specific examples of behavioral areas where the 50 or older set outperformed their younger counterparts include:
- Installing anti-virus/-spyware/-malware software on a PC and/or laptop
- Using phishing and Web-browser filters
- Using strong passwords
While all survey respondents have many of the safety “basics” covered, opportunities exist to learn about new and emerging threats, particularly in the social realm. This is especially important for seniors where 50 percent of individuals age 50 to 64 in the U.S. use social networks. The industry’s focus on combating technical threats, such as unknown e-mails, popups, spyware and viruses, has led to a broad base of knowledge, where consumers trust and depend on automatic updates, firewalls and virus protection to help keep them safer online. As a new breed of “socially engineered” threats emerges, however, consumers are not yet as knowledgeable as to how to best protect themselves.
Individuals are increasingly vulnerable to risks posed by fraudulent and malicious links, online identity theft and exposing sensitive personal information.
If you would like to learn more about making the computer safer and easier to use, please visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center and Accessibility Resources, or join us in-person at AARP’s Life @50+ conference in New Orleans.