Last year, more than 92,000 U.S. adults aged 60 and over were victims of online scams, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, resulting in losses of roughly $1.7 billion. To fight this problem, a University at Buffalo research team received a $5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to create digital tools to help older adults protect themselves from such online deceptions and disinformation.

“Older adults did not grow up using the internet. For many of them, it can be difficult to spot online deceptions, and the results can be tragic,” said principal investigator Siwei Lyu, PhD, Empire Innovation Professor of computer science and engineering at UB. Lyu says they are creating a multidisciplinary team of experts to create a suite of digital literacy tools that older adults can use to help recognize, resist, and spread awareness of online deceptions and disinformation.”

The project is called Deception Awareness and Resilience Training (DART), led by the UB Center for Information Integrity (CII), and builds upon a $750,000 National Science Foundation grant the team received last year. The DART platform uses digital games, including engaging and realistic social media situations, to make learning fun. The aim is to make DART easy to use, so that older adults can learn on their own, in communal settings such as adult homes or libraries, or with the aid of a caregiver.

There are many digital literacy tools available, but many are not tailored to older adults, which limits their effectiveness. DART aims to address this limitation by including a wide range of online schemes that older adults encounter. The team will update the learning materials as schemes evolve.

Learn more about DART at Watch a video at