HelpAge India rolls out Project Surakshit on-ground
HelpAge India launched Project Surakshit, a national programme with grant funding from Google.org, with the goal of digitally securing senior citizens so they can safeguard themselves from internet fraud and scams. On February 7th, HelpAge India launched a series of Digital Safety seminars across 16 states, training over 1000 senior citizens at the same time.
The workshops, a first-of-its-kind event in the country, offer seniors essential digital safety training, equipping them with critical skills to navigate the internet safely and securely and reap the benefits of online digital conveniences. They are organized in collaboration with Senior Citizens Associations. HelpAge’s objective is to raise awareness among this low – income neighborhood so that elders are notified and prepared to identify and respond to common online scams. The workshops include a customized curriculum that covers seven modules that provide advice on multiple internet safety matters such as: Constructing a Strong Password, Staying Safe While Banking Online, Paying Utility Bills Online Safely, Protecting Your Device, Spotting an Online Scam, Staying Safe on WhatsApp, and Booking a Cab Safely Online.
With the quick growth of digital services like online payments, placing an order daily wares, banking, and shopping, the older population has become more vulnerable. The elderly are considered easy targets for online fraudsters because they were late adopters of digital technology.
“These training sessions are a requirement; we elders require them in today’s day and age with the growing number of online scam artists that really are taking place. “I’m afraid to touch any link on my phone because I’m afraid my savings will be lost,” says 61-year-old Ms. Aruna Gupta, a Senior Citizens Association member.
“The pandemic rocketed the need for the adoption of digital technology for elders to the forefront. Living in digital isolation is no longer an option in today’s world, with not only vital health and safety services linked to our smartphones, but also our daily requirements and needs such as ordering groceries, paying the bills online, internet banking, and so on. Social connections are also essential for staying mentally active and healthy, as the lockdown highlighted the extreme isolation and distancing our elders experienced. While the younger generation found it easier to adjust, many seniors struggled with the abrupt change. They were also far more vulnerable to online frauds and scams as a result of this. HelpAge India is attempting to address this issue through ‘Project Surakshit.’
“We collaborate with and for Senior Citizens Associations from across country, and we saw an increasing need for elders to adopt digital safety measures. Senior citizens may lose their hard-earned savings if they fall victim to online scams. “We have to equip them with the knowledge of spotting and identifying these scams, as well as taking precautionary measures, so their money is safe and they can enjoy and safely explore the digital world, which has so much to offer,” says Sonali Sharma, Head of Communications and Mission Head of HelpAge India’s Digital Literacy Program.
‘Safer Internet Day’ workshops are being held in the following states: Delhi, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.