Want to protect your parents online? Try installing a VPN

An older lady using a laptop with her daughter
(Image credit: Getty Images/DMP)

If they're anything like mine, your parents probably spent your childhood warning you about the risks of the digital world. Well, now it's time to return the favor. Tell your parents they should be using a VPN.

Whether it's one of the best VPNs or one of the best free VPNs, just because the older generations don't spend as much time online, doesn't mean they aren't at risk. Here at Tom's Guide, we believe that using a VPN is the best practice for surfing the web. Even if your parents aren't gaming (although my 70-year-old dad does), torrenting, or visiting the dark web, they could still do with a VPN. 

Why your parents need a VPN

Whether it's a mysterious telephone call, a letter through the door, or a fraudulent email, the older generations have long been the primary target of scammers. The FBI estimates that seniors are scammed out of $3 billion a year. A VPN is a great tool against this, especially if you choose one with elements of anti-virus.

NordVPN's Threat Protection Pro for instance is a certified anti-phishing tool included in its Plus and Ultimate subscription tiers. Enabled with just a click of a button (and even without the VPN enabled) it gives you protection from phishing scams, downloading malware, and suspicious links.

Conceptual image representing digital software VPN computing technology

(Image credit: Vertigo3d/Getty Images)

A VPN is a brilliant way to avoid being the target of a hacker. They automatically encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address, making it almost impossible for a hacker to target you and keeping your passwords, banking details, and more safe. 

Top VPNs also have mobile apps for both Android and iOS so make sure your parents have a matching VPN on their phone too. This is also very handy out and about, with fraudulent or weak public Wi-Fi networks a known hunting ground for hackers.

Having one of the best streaming VPNs is also a real game changer when it comes to watching TV and movies. 

Many streaming services (like Netflix) have region-specific content and being able to change your location to keep up with your favorites while on vacation or away is incredibly useful. Indeed some streaming platforms like Hulu, Max, and BBC iPlayer are only available if you're in a certain country – or have access to a VPN. 

Is it easy to install and use a VPN?

It couldn't be easier to install a VPN, as long as you use one that's geared around simplicity. Any of the best VPNs are a great pick for a beginner, and they'll do all of the hard work for you. If you want to get set up quickly, follow these three steps:

  1. Pick a VPN that suits you and download the app – either from the app store or the VPN's website.
  2. Log in and connect to a server with the quick connect button.
  3. Browse online to your heart's content.

You can set and forget any top VPN, they'll keep ticking away in the background to keep you safe.

Don't believe it's that easy? I asked Andreas to tell me about teaching his granddad how to use a VPN:

Real-life testimony
Headshot of Editor-in-Chief of  Tech Software, Andreas Theodorou
Real-life testimony
Andreas Theodorou

I installed Surfshark on my grandfather's PC and taught him how to use it in all of 10 minutes. I downloaded it, logged in, and made sure the kill switch and auto-connect features were enabled, then hit quick connect and closed the app. Once it was set up, he knew he didn't need to think about it – it just runs in the background keeping him safe. Apps like Surfshark and ExpressVPN are excellent VPNs for beginners because they keep things simple and offer a one-click connection to keep your loved ones safe.

Which VPN is the best? 

Well, our current number one choice for most people is NordVPN and it certainly is a strong contender. But there are other options that offer easier-to-use apps. 

If your folks are just looking for something to keep them safe when browsing, then Surfshark might be the best option out there. It's incredibly fast, supports unlimited connections, and is much cheaper than its rivals.

If your parents struggle with technology and value sheer simplicity, then ExpressVPN is by far the easiest to use. It's one of the more expensive VPNs on the market but we consider it the most intuitive and it only has one subscription package with everything included. 

Of course, Free VPNs are a valid option and when it comes to these we rate ProtonVPN and PrivadoVPN as having stellar free versions. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer – VPN

Andy is Tom's Guide Staff Writer for VPNs and privacy. Based in the UK, he originally cut his teeth at Tom's Guide as a Trainee Writer (go and click on his articles!) before moving to cover all things Tech and streaming at T3. He's now back at Tom's Guide to keep you safe online, and bring you the latest news in VPN and cybersecurity. 

With contributions from