Engadget readers like you are probably more tech-savvy than the average person. This means you can help elderly family members with email problems, new phone setups, or deciphering whether a message is legitimate or a phishing scam. In my family, I’ve become my mom’s unofficial IT support hotline, which keeps me busy with time-poor older adults and grown children. There are a number of resources made up of actual people who will calmly walk you through any technology challenge seniors may encounter. Many local libraries and senior centers offer free classes and even one-on-one technical assistance for seniors, but if they can’t make it to a live session or don’t have offerings in their area, phone hotlines and online services are the answer.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried a few of the top tech hotlines out there using my mom and her FAQ and found three services, two of which are completely free and the third is a free option. . If you know an elderly person who could use help with their technology, referring them to one of these services won’t feel like bailing them out, but like sending them to an IT professional with endless patience.
Top three free premium technical support companies
What surprised me the most about CyberSeniors (and Senior Planet listed below) is that the service is completely free. is a non-profit organization of volunteers, most of whom are young people trained to act as “digital mentors” for the older generation. The service also offers daily webinars via Zoom on topics such as accessing internet radio, finding top networking sites and understanding disinformation.
For one-on-one tech support, there’s a simple form to fill out basic information (email, date of birth, device type, etc.) before selecting an available date and time for a volunteer to call you back. When my mom wanted to learn how to invite my brother to a Google Meet video chat, I set up a session for her. The time was set for Tuesday afternoon and he called at 12. He explained what he wanted to do and patiently walked him through the steps to complete the volunteer task. Mom said she didn’t feel rushed and didn’t feel dumb for not knowing how to do basic things like how to find my brother’s email address. The volunteer even let me try dating him before the call ended.
Before leaving, the mentor told my mom to call anytime to talk to him specifically (the sign-up form has a field to address the mentor by name) or anyone on the CyberSeniors team.
$0 at Cyber-Seniors
, another free hotline service offered by AARP, but callers do not need to be members to use it. Like CyberSeniors, there is a live online classroom component, and in-person sessions are also offered in major US cities. If someone needs help right away and doesn’t want to wait for a call back, this is the hotline. From 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, staff and volunteers answer questions about email, Zoom, iPhone notifications, and other technology issues.
When I called, I got through to one of the “technology trainers” within a minute. The hotline is best for simple questions, but for more involved tech training, Senior Planet recommends daily live Zoom sessions where attendees can ask questions. Classes cover tech issues like how to use Spotify and how AI works, but are broader to include book club discussions and daily fitness sessions. If someone needs help joining a class, the hotline can help.
$0 at AARP
was the first high-end tech helpline I ever heard of, and since then it’s focused on offering help to anyone who needs it, not just the over-65s. There is an emergency hotline or you can schedule a call through the website. It’s free the first time you call and once a month after that. There is a $5 monthly charge for multiple calls per month, plus $11 per call. If you expect to make more than two calls per month, it may be wise to pay $20 per month for an unlimited plan.
While not free, GoGoQuincy covers the basics, answering questions about smart home technology, TVs, e-readers and more, and even helps prevent scams and phishing. I called my mom when she didn’t know how to silence notifications on her iPhone. There was a little hiccup when Quincy called her back and her phone (for unknown reasons) blocked their number, but I taught her how to unblock the number and she was ready for her session.
Like CyberSeniors, my mom felt rushed when explaining her problem. The technician walked him through the fix without worrying about any lack of understanding and stayed on the line with the receiver to make sure everything was working properly with a few test texts. Despite being a potentially paid program, the GoGoQuincy representative didn’t try to push her to upgrade her membership or sign up for anything — they just wished her a good day and told her to call back if she ever needed more help.
$0 in Quincy