How can the elderly feel confident and safe during the internet use A complete package of resources

The digital transformation of public welfare and private services which reflects a broad range of trends and developments is becoming a key objective across the EU member states. While digital competence is considered one of the key competences for lifelong learning as the use of digital technologies is constantly rising, the elderly population is less familiar with ICT. Consumer and personal data protection of the elderly during their online activity is a general concern irrespective of nationality or place of residence.

There is a strong need to educate EU citizens and the elderly on accessing and engaging in online activities by experiencing a high level of consumer and personal data protection. Therefore, the e-Protect project aims to address the consumer and data protection needs during internet use of elderly people through their familiarization with the use of ICT tools, by providing them tailored training opportunities that will meet these challenges. Below there are some essential resources for enhancing elderly’s competences for safe internet use.

The Competency Scale for measuring elder people’s efficacy on consumer and data protection skills

The e-Protect Competency Scale consists of a powerful and innovative tool to measure elder people’s (65+) efficacy on consumer and data protection skills and competences. The scale is also a useful tool for professionals working with them, as it allows a clear view of the training needs in terms of consumer and data protection competences. The scale include 10 key competence areas divided in 3 main thematic areas: Consumer behavior and protection, Online payments and transactions and Data protection and privacy. According to the four hierarchical levels of competence (basic, intermediate, advanced, expert) as adjusted to the target group, these competence areas unfold 40 specific and interconnected competences. The Competency Scale sounds like a complicated tool but in reality is not. Users can access the scale online in the e-Protect project’s website and navigate to understand the simplicity and levelled structure of the scale.

The e-Protect Curricula for Internet Safety with specifications on the learning outcomes and the utility of each competence.

The e-Protect Curricula maps the Internet Safety competences in regard to consumer and personal data protection, providing in detail the description of the learning outcomes in terms of knowledge and skills, describing each competence and its value for elderly people. The e-protect curricula fully corresponds to the result of IO1 i.e., the Competency Scale. The e-Protect Curricula can be used by adult educators to create tailored training on the consumer and personal data protection competences, or directly by the elderly to assess and develop their competence. It will allow elderly people (65+) to practice their digital wellbeing, become empowered and develop their self-confidence, thus maximizing the control over their online activities and independence. The e-protect curricula consist of 10 units (which are grouped into 3 categories). These units are basically the 10 competence areas of the Competency Scale.

The e-Protect Train-the-Trainer Toolkit for Internet Safety

The e-Protect Train-the-Trainer Toolkit supports the capacity building for adult trainers for the implementation of the innovative training programme for the elderly. As training programmes are more likely to contribute to the desired outcomes when they are current, well-organized, understandable, and accurate, the Toolkit ensures an informed resource that derives from educational, cognitive, and technological research. The Toolkit can also function as a guide for the implementation of the innovative e-Protect training programme for the elderly. In particular, it provides knowledge and understanding of the e-Protect Competency Scale, the e-Protect Curricula, and instructions on how to prepare the training programme in practice.

The e-Protect e-Learning platform

The e-learning platform is a one-stop-shop providing instant access to the full suite of digital learning resources developed in this project. The rich informational material is freely available online for everyone interested in learning more about internet safety for the elderly.

Read the full article here.

Digitalizing the Golden Agers

According to Eurostat (2021a), the percentage of elder people (65 to 74 years old) accessing the internet at least once a week increased by 128% during the last decade. Today (2020), 57% of them has weekly contact with the online world. At the same time, according to data of the same statistical authority (Eurostat, 2021b), only 24% of the elderly are equipped with at least basic digital skills. Therefore, there is a large percentage of seniors who access the internet but they might not have the necessary safety skills in front of online threats and frauds.

The European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) addresses that “the Internet is a perfect medium for organised crime”. The elderly, despite their low adoption rate in technologies, is a usual target for online fraudsters and scammers because they are considered more vulnerable (EUCPN, 2017). In fact, a recent international survey on cyber safety revealed that almost 500 million consumers have been victimized by cyber-crime in ten countries. Moreover, 43% of them have lost money because of the cybercrime committed. Elder consumers, given the lower extend of familiarity with digital devices and the internet in general, are understandably concerned about security and safety issues (The Harris Poll, 2020).

The E-Commerce sector is literally booming worldwide with b2c sales reaching as far as almost $5 trillion today (Statista, 2020). Retailers and consumers are obliged to provide personal and payment details through the web to initiate the sale. This attracts numerous cybercriminals to exploit security gaps and invade both parties. Payment card frauds, e-skimming, phishing, computer worms, botnet are only some of the existing threats on the internet. Unfortunately, public intervention usually comes next when hackers and online thieves strike.

The e-Protect project was born to target this need and act preventively on cybercrime among the elderly. The main aim of this EU funded project is to educate EU citizens and the elderly on how to access and engage in online activities by experiencing a high level of consumer and personal data protection. For this reason, the partnership developed a Competency Scale to inform individuals and practitioners in education and training, about the required skills to safely navigate to the internet.

According to the main findings presented in the research report, along with the professional frameworks around these areas “The Digital Competence Framework for Consumers” of the European Commission, the Competency Scale includes ten areas of competence divided into three main categories:

  1. Consumer behaviour and protection,
  2. Online payments and transactions,
  3. Data protection and privacy.

This Competency Scale consists of an innovative tool for measuring the competence of individuals in online safety. At the same time, the scale can inform trainers to develop educational material and activities for application during their practice. All the information about the project, including the Competency Scale and upcoming lesson plans and activities, are already available on the project website. The e-protect partnership is actively working on producing more interesting features for strengthening the elderly’s competence in online safety and increasing educators’ capacity building and professionalization on training elderly people.

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Read the full article here.

Working towards digital education and inclusion behind the scenes of the People Behind organization

The e-Protect project partners, during the Joint Staff Training in Athens, Greece, had the opportunity for a study visit to People Behind! People Behind is a Greek non-profit organization with one simple and impactful aim: to keep people aged 65 and above active!

Genesis of the organization

The organization was founded in 2017 by Maria Asteriou and Maria Iliopoulou. Both had been affected by their personal experiences: the older members of their families found themselves idle once they retired, with few opportunities for socialization or participation in activities. This is how they came up with the idea of People Behind, whose motto “A world where no one is left behind” very well sums up the objective of the organization: to work towards a society inclusive for all ages, following the EU directions goals for Healthy and Active Aging.

To achieve this objective, they design and implement programs on different methods such as life-long learning, intergenerational solidarity, digital education & inclusion, and active participation in civil society. One of their ongoing projects is the University for Third Age.

The University for Third Age

The idea for the creation of the 1st University for Third Age in Greece arose after research and exchange of best practices with the Universities for Third Age of Cyprus, London and Malaga. Started in Athens in late 2019, this project offers seniors 65+ a variety of workshops and activities. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the founders adapted and created an e-learning platform, where the beneficiaries can follow weekly courses, do their homework, express ideas and build relationships. For a small fee, seniors can attend classes in a variety of subjects such as European History, Greek Philosophy, Ancient Tragedy but also ICT and Drama. To facilitate the courses, the organization hires external educators. Their main criteria in choosing them: their interest in teaching older adults.

Despite the quality and variety of classes offered, Maria explained that the social aspect overcomes the learning outcome for seniors. To offer participants a full academic experience, the team even organizes graduations, to recognize the students’ efforts.

Needless to say, it was a very fruitful exchange for all participants of the study visit. Everyone was very inspired by the missions and values of People Behind and have drawn valuable lessons  that we will be sure to bring to the e-Protect project!

Read the full article here.

The digital divide among the elderly: Research insights from Cyprus

Living in a transitional era of digital transformation, the gaps in digital skills among different groups of people is a great concern at a practical and policy level in all countries. This article brings some insights from the Cyprus elder society on the use of the internet and the extent to which they feel competent to digitise their daily practices, with regard to online payments and purchases. The results presented below are derived from qualitative data from 10 interviews with people over 65 years old in Cyprus. Questions were formulated in a semi-structured interview guide to allow in-depth discussions on their everyday life issues related to the project areas. Using this approach, respondents were also encouraged to reflect on their past experiences, opinions and suggestions on topics such as internet use, online purchases and payments, and data protection.

Use of the internet

The vast majority of the interviewees were frequent users of the internet. They usually access the web from their smartphones, and they generally evaluate themselves as competent enough for the limited range of online activities they usually do. However, as shown by their answers later, although aware of some online functions and threats, they could not clearly state any techniques or methods to protect themselves. Sometimes they were also confused about distinguishing between online or offline functions of their smartphones, and other basic knowledge considering internet activities.

Online purchases

Half of the interviewees have never made any online purchases alone, although most of them asked for help from children or friends more than once to buy (or pay) something online. Although not competent to initiate online purchases, they referred to many categories of goods and services they were interested in buying if they were able to. Some indicative examples of goods and services are clothes, shoes, kitchen or garden products, books, small electrical devices, tickets for events, or flights. Participants admitted that they do not have the digital skills to make online purchases. However, they did not show any intent to acquire them supported by arguments such as their preference to buy products in person, the fact that they simply do not need to, and in other cases because of online risks (e.g., of delivery, of trust and reliability, of online threats during payments). Those who were completely indifferent to these topics described autonomous online payments as a very far-fetched scenario. In most of the cases, the price was not generally perceived as a motive because differences are practically minor. Therefore, the biggest concern was about the reliability and quality of the delivered product. There were also some misconceptions stated during the interviews such as ‘all online retailers are probably valid’, or ‘frauds are coming from third-world countries and not from European websites.

Online payments and transactions

Interestingly, respondents presented a particular interest in making online payments and managing relevant financial services. They recognized the benefits of paying off their obligations through the internet rather than the old way. Four out of ten were not competent in making such payments, but they are willing to learn. Only one participant stated that she does not have any essential reason to make online payments and prefers to avoid further internet activities because of regular threats. Adding to this, more than one participant noted that they prefer to limit their online payments to the most essential activities and serious reasons (e.g., internet banking to monitor accounts, car insurance and registration, taxes, and utility bills). In general, they were all aware of online frauds and threats but only a few of them appeared confident to control and avoid them. They also admitted that sometimes they fear making any mistakes and expressed suspicion about the safety provided during payments. In all cases, they were not able to categorise or name any of those threats. Those who feel more competent to make online transactions (four out of ten) expanded more on methods to manage risks and referred to several security measures (PINs, OTPs, verification codes, passwords etc.).

Data protection

Regarding data protection, most of them admitted that they are not competent to manage privacy, therefore they were all hesitant on providing personal information online. They could not refer to any regulations that secure their personal data (e.g., GDPR) or other techniques from websites to obtain them (e.g., cookies). In addition, they were not able to identify the reasons why websites track our online activity and ‘force’ us to accept their terms and conditions. Only a few of them referred to misleading information and marketing purposes. They also appeared ambivalent about the intentions of websites and the privacy policies they declare. Therefore, they generally limit their activity (e.g., the number of visiting websites) to reduce risks. Moreover, half of them have accounts in one or more social media (mostly Facebook or Twitter), but only two of them thoroughly stated security measures to protect their accounts such as saving passwords and authentication controls.

The research was held as part of the e-Protect project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission (Project Number: 2020-1-CY01-KA204-065949). The full report of the research can be found here. The data are available upon request. To stay updated about the developments of the project you can follow the project’s Facebook page (@eProtectprojectEU).


Note. This article retrieves parts from the National Research Report (Cyprus) produced for the purposes of the e-Protect project. CARDET and INNOVADE are responsible for editing, designing, and content contribution of the referred report.


Read the full article here.

The e-Protect project for the semi-retired or retired Defence Forces!

The Rural Hub organised a Multiplier Event on 15 November 2022. This event took place in two different locations. The Multiplier Event was split into two parts, in order to accommodate the transport needs of the participants and also to minimise access issues.

The aim of both events was to showcase the diversity and full range of the e-Protect project’s training materials and resources, and to use this great opportunity to raise awareness of online safety, and to promote the digital skills and confidence of older people.

The IUNVA members who attended the first session in Cavan were people who had previously served as members of the Defence Forces, all with different skills and backgrounds. Participants at the second event were semi-retired or retired people and represented a number of older people’s groups and interests in the county, all of whom worked in different professions, including teachers, administrators, business owners and managers.

Both events were attended by the local Cavan Gardai (Police) to give a talk to all attendees about online safety and cyber-crime that is emerging in this day and age, where people are more digitally connected than ever before. The Gardai officer provided many excellent tips to help participants access the internet and how to stay safe while surfing the net or shopping online. The local police were able to share very useful online safety guidelines.

In total, 23 participants attended. All were very satisfied with the intervention offered at this Multiplier Event. Not only did they think the materials were good, but they expressed a desire to use these resources in their own cases, and they also expressed a desire to recommend it to others. The Rural Hub received very positive feedback from participants, who let us know that the e-Protect project had met their needs through these events, and expressed that these resources helped them to more effectively address their knowledge and skills towards the care and security of Internet Shopping and Payment.

Internet and seniors

With difficulties and fears, the Internet is creeping into the lives of seniors. According to research, in 2020, it was found that 46% of people aged 75+ in Ireland have never used the internet. This compares with only 2% of 30-44 year olds in Ireland, and 4% of 45 – 59 year olds, who have never used the internet.

Booking holidays, consulting medical issues, and banking are three of the most frequent uses of the internet among the older population. Although Ireland has shown that technology penetration among the elderly is not comparable to that of the young, the elderly is making steady progress in bridging the digital divide that separates them from younger people.

The popularisation of smartphone use has facilitated and encouraged many older people to become internet users. While browsing through fixed terminals is minimised or limited to work or formal environments, Internet use through mobile phones is now the most common and thanks to them, many seniors have become users of Facebook or YouTube. The use of WhatsApp among the elderly is also gradually growing as a form of intergenerational communication.

If you want to know how Internet is playing a positive role in senior citizen’s lives, read the following article:


Seniors are willing to learn

A survey conducted by the University of Zurich (CH) with other partner has found new results on the learning habits and desires of seniors in Switzerland. The aim of the study was to identify the learning needs of the Swiss population over the age of 60. For this aim an online survey was conducted resulting with data of over 1’000 individuals over the age of 60.

In general, the study reveals the precise and distinct picture seniors have of their learning needs. The results show that seniors have a clear idea what topics and what thematic fields are interesting to them.

When developing offers for the senior population and when trying to meet their needs it is equally important to consider the financial situation of seniors. Most seniors will have retired from their profession and will likely be living with their pensions. Therefore, it’s important to respect the financial aspect when planning offers targeting seniors.

When it comes to digitalisation and ICT skills the main finding is that the seniors, here too, have a profound interest in the topic. People in the third age do not want to learn the functioning of digital devices. While learning these functional aspects, they are also interested in the critical reflection of the topic. With data security for example, they are interested in the societal consequences of the digitalisation and the data economy. They want to learn about the connections and the context.

Participant at the centre of adult education in Switzerland

As part of the Impact Framework of the e-Protect project we evaluated the methods used in the e-Protect material. To get this information several telephone interviews and written interviews were conducted. The evaluation reached institutions mainly working with the target group of seniors.

Adult education focusing on seniors reflects another aspect than adult education that targets the working population. As the difference in the terminology hints already, most seniors have retired from their profession. This gives their lifelong learning another motivation than professional development.

When it comes to ICT skills and internet security behaviour most institution taking part in this evaluation recommend using a variation of methods. Not only should it be a training; what seniors most need is consulting. Therefore, the material is highly useful as a basis. Before and after the programs developed by e-Protect the seniors need consulting, which is crucial.

The e-Protect Project at the 1st “Life Paths” Festival for the empowerment of older people

The e-protect project was presented in a Multiplier Event that was organised by KMOP in the context of the “Paths of Life” festival. The specific festival, organised by ADAMA KOIN.SEP was the first festival in Greece that focuses on the empowerment of older people (adults 65+ years old) and their interaction with younger generations. The festival took place on 15 and 16 October 2022 at Technopolis City of Athens, and it aimed to empower older people. It included a variety of activities such as educational and recreational workshops, intergenerational workshops and activities, scientific lectures, photo exhibitions, and live performances from different organisations.

The panel of the event consisted of Mrs. Klimentini Diakomanoli, the head of press of the European Commission Office in Greece, and a writer about fake news and European regulations regarding cyber security, Mr. Charalambos Karras, a representative of the Cyber Crime Unit of the Hellenic police, and Ms. Eva Salmatani, the Project Manager of the e-Protect Project who presented the general aim, the objectives and the results of the project regarding the protection of people 65+ when using the Internet. Specifically, Ms. Salmatani presented in detail the basic deliverables of the project: the Competency Scale for consumer and data protection skills for elderly people, the e-Protect Curricula for Internet Safety, the e-Protect Training, and the e-Protect Digital Platform.

The event was attended by more than 20 people of all ages, who learned how to protect themselves during internet and technology use.

You can watch the speeches in Greek here:

The e-Protect project at the “Semaine Bleue” in Paris for the digital inclusion of seniors

The multiplier organized by E-Seniors Association took place the 4th of October 2022 in the heart of Paris, only a few streets away from the Eiffel towel.

The event was set during the Blue Week, created in 1951 in France with the aim of informing and raising awareness about the contribution of retired people to economic, social and cultural life, the concerns and difficulties encountered by the elderly, and the achievements and projects of civil society organizations.

To start the event, Sylvie Ceyrac, Deputy Mayor in charge of Solidarity and Intergenerational Relations of the 15th arrondissement of Paris, made a speech highlighting the difficulties of seniors in Paris and the challenge they face with the digital divide. Then, Monique Epstein, Director of the E-Seniors association, introduced the purpose of the association and the work done for the past 15 years to reduce the digital divide.

The presentation of the project was made by E-Seniors’ project managers Agathe Larmor and Romane Seas, during 1 hour, and included an overview of the results of the project, a presentation of the elearning platform and a Q&A with the public.

Then the event finished with some live music and a catering buffet to give participants a time to directly ask one-to-one questions to the project managers, to register for ICT classes and to test the e-Protect elearning platform in a dedicated space.

Overall, 41 participants attended the event. E-Seniors gathered positive feedback and seniors were impressed with the work done to bring the results from the e-Protect project to them. They also expressed interest in the content and asked questions on how to further their skills and knowledge on the topics presented.