In today’s fast-paced digital world, elder fraud has emerged as a significant concern. With over 92,000 U.S. adults aged 60 and over reporting losses of $1.7 billion due to online fraud in 2021, it’s clear that our aging population is increasingly vulnerable. This alarming trend underscores the need for innovative solutions to protect our elders from the evolving threats of the digital age.
DeepCover, a groundbreaking mobile app, is stepping up to address this urgent challenge. Developed by the University at Buffalo’s Center for Information Integrity (CII) and partners, DeepCover is a free app designed to enhance digital literacy among older adults in a fun, engaging way. By incorporating themes from iconic spy films like Mission: Impossible and James Bond, DeepCover offers an exciting platform for seniors to learn about online scams and fraud.
DeepCover pairs users with an agent character—Agent Daring, Agent Intrepid, or Agent Valiant—who guides them through a series of “missions.” These missions are designed to improve digital literacy through various engaging activities, including tile-matching video games. As users progress, they earn scores and insights, furthering their understanding and resilience against online deceptions.
The app’s development was spearheaded by esteemed academics and professionals, including Dr. Siwei Lyu, co-director of CII, and other key figures from Cornell University, Lehigh University, Clemson University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. This collaboration of minds has been crucial in creating an app tailored to the unique needs of older adults, who might already be playing games like Wordle.
The National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program played a pivotal role in bringing DeepCover to life, granting $5 million over two years for its development. This funding underscores the national importance of combating elder fraud.
DeepCover is part of the Deception Awareness and Resilience Training (DART) initiative, a comprehensive program aimed at enhancing the digital resilience of older adults. DART, with its three components—DART Learn, DART Practice, and DART Play—offers a holistic approach to learning, practicing, and applying skills to combat online deception.
DART stands out with its tailored content, realistic simulations, and user-friendly design, focusing on the unique needs and preferences of older adults. It’s a system that continuously evolves, staying relevant in the ever-changing landscape of online scams.
The DART initiative has partnered with local and national organizations to maximize its reach and effectiveness. Through community workshops and user feedback sessions, DART ensures that its offerings are accessible and impactful for the senior community.
DeepCover and DART represent a significant leap forward in protecting our elders from the growing threat of online fraud. By combining innovative technology, expert knowledge, and community engagement, these initiatives are setting a new standard in elder care and digital literacy.
As digital scams become increasingly sophisticated, initiatives like DeepCover and DART are essential in safeguarding our senior population. By embracing these tools, we can empower our elders, ensuring they remain safe and confident in the digital world.
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