We’re used to hearing about (or using) parental controls on smartphones to protect kids. But in China, some have found that parental control may be more useful for the parents of the parents.

Cybersecurity company Qihoo 360 introduced settings into its mobile security app to keep its elderly users out of trouble. Its 360 Mobile Security app includes an option to blacklist certain numbers that have been linked to scammers. Even if a call goes through, it will also send a warning to the elderly person's children.

It’s not the only app trying to stop scammers reaching its elderly targets which are growing by the numbers.

Almost 96% middle-aged and senior citizens in China are using smartphones to surf the web, according to last year's report by Tencent and state media People's Daily. Many of them skipped the PC era entirely… but they also seem to have skipped online fraud education.

Gramps just found an amazing deal online. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Qihoo 360's 2018 report on consumer rights showed that fraudsters are highly trained in sweet-talking grandparents. However, scams targeted at the elderly in China aren’t just made through spam calls. Many operate through China's most popular social platform, WeChat, which makes transferring money even easier through WeChat Pay.

App makers have been trying to come up with a solution. Genpichong is aimed both at monitoring teenagers and the elderly, and includes checking payments through WeChat along with location tracking.

Another app is hoping to become a whole operating system for the elderly. It includes not only calls and WeChat but also a simplified marketplace.

This app under the poetic name of Silver Beauty Elderly Desktop tries to function as a self-contained OS. (Picture: Yinmei Laoren Zhuomian)

How much these apps help is unknown, but some have downloads in the millions. Experts suggest that the solution lies in education for the elderly, and being available to answer their (sometimes bewildering) questions.

In the meantime, fraudsters have no lack of trick up their sleeves. Local media has so far reported on creative schemes such as offering “free egg delivery” to dupe online users into sending money and sending red envelopes in order to install phishing software on users phone.