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[HOW TO] Getting the Elderly Up To Speed On The Internet: The Prerequisites

It is certainly not an understatement that the internet has revolutionized communication for my generation, but at the same time, there are plenty of people that missed this revolution’s train and now they are feeling more and more isolated since everyone has completely migrated to the internet.

My mother is one of those people; she has been holding back on learning how to use a computer or browse the internet for the past 20 years, but now that everyone is just sending their photos through email and Facebook rather than through a post, and they send each other messages through the internet rather than through voicemail, she has been getting more and more interested. Therefore, I decided that it is time to bring her up to speed on the net. So in these posts, and hopefully some follow ups, I will be introducing her to the various parts of the net and I’ll be sharing with you various parts of what we have learned together. The aim is to create a method for teaching those computer holdouts how to use computers and the net and making the internet interesting, enticing and relevant for them using social media.

The internet is vast in what it offers and while a students starting point for learning to use the internet might be Google, for my mom, her interests lies mostly in Facebook. Facebook allowed me to only teach her using one platform what was split up into 5 or more platforms just 3 years ago, it combines chatting, messaging, profile updates, address book, pictures and videos on a single platform. So I decided that this will be our starting point.

Prerequisites

Gmail and Facebook are enough!

An email is still a requirement for setting up your online presence. So, after finally finding a suitable Gmail account name that doesn’t involve numbers – so that it is easy to remember – I went on to setup the account, and saved the username and password in the browser. Upon logging into the email account, I checked the “stayed signed in” so that my mother won’t have to deal with usernames and passwords, and I also added a bookmark that is visible at the top of the browser.

Is Technology Making us Cocoon Away From Society?

I can still hear it ringing in my ear every time I sit behind a computer screen “Get off that thing and go interact with Real People!”. That was my father’s reaction whenever he noticed me spending too much time on the computer. It has been more than a decade since I started growing up with the internet, and up to this day, my parents still feel that the internet makes people withdraw from society and leads them to become anti-social. That idea is not only fostered by my parents but also by a lot of people. You know what is even worse than being an internet user? To be an internet user and avid gamer!

Personally, I never bought into that argument at all, and apparently the people at PEW set out to find the truth. The results of the research have been interesting, to say the least.

Social Interaction

Social Interaction

The numbers…

People who use the internet have been found to have a more diverse network of people whom they interact with. Internet users are 55% more likely to have a discussion partner that is not part of the family. Not surprisingly either is that internet users who blog and share photos are more likely to have a confidant (people whom they trust and confide in) of a different race and tend to interact with people from across races and political lines. That’s certainly an advantage since our comfort zone is constantly challenged and hopefully not by many trolls.

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