Expand your world instantly
How would you like instantly to go anywhere in the world, get any information you want or communicate with whoever comes to mind? If you access to the Internet, you may have started your day by visiting France and Australia, refreshed your memory about who starred in a favorite 1950s movie, and e-mailed a faraway relative or friend. If you’re not routinely online, think about taking a step to broaden your daily world.
Although older Americans are the fastest-growing group to embrace the online world, still many have little or no interest in venturing into the virtual land of plenty. The Pew Research Center’s most recent study found that 59% of U.S. seniors report they do go online, up from 53% a year ago.
As with all demographics, income and education matter. Among seniors with an annual household income of at least $75,000, 90% go online, Pew found. And of seniors with a college degree, 87% go online. Among seniors who have not attended college, just 40% go online.
How can those who are open to ongoing “Net” exposure actually take a next step? Often a family member gladly will expose and train them and, if they want, help them buy and install the equipment, connect to the Internet and become regular or even habitual users. Also, many services in the community and online offer free training and encouragement. Increasingly, adult schools, senior centers, libraries, retirement communities and Web sites offer online tutorials on basic computer skills and using the Internet.
There is literally no end to what you can experience on the Internet. Generations on Line (www.generationsonline.com), a nonprofit organization that promotes senior access to the Internet, reviewed 16,000 searches performed by older Americans and found that “they are curious and interested in the world around them.” Travel, history, hobbies and genealogy were among the top search topics. Disease and illness ranked only sixth.
Besides searching for information, you can stay in contact with family and friends via e-mail and instant messaging, and you can meet new people in online communities, including some oriented to seniors.
If you are a senior who would like to have the Internet available as a resource available 24/7, seek out a free training opportunity. If you try it, like it and either have or can afford to buy your own laptop computer or tablet, jump in. If you don’t have your own and can’t afford one, share your enthusiasm about it when someone in your family asks what you want for your birthday or other special occasion. In the meantime, you can visit your local library for free “transport” to anywhere you would like to go and discoveries that await your curiosity.
If you are a senior or a Boomer who cannot imagine life without the Internet, consider encouraging and mentoring someone you feel confident would enjoy and benefit from forays into the virtual and very real world. No matter how broad your experience, also consider exploring previously untried online resources to further enrich your own life.
Sandy Cohen and Roger Cormier
email: [email protected];
free blog: starguide4growingolder.wordpress.com