Saturday, 26 May 2012

Digital inclusion - we all have a role

I started blogging exactly a year ago and my motivation at the time was to get a feel for what it was like to blog because of my job. I suppose it is time to come clean ... I work in what is grandly and sometimes confusingly called "digital inclusion" and for my job this is all about people in later life embracing computer based technology that we all take for granted  [I work for a national organisation called Age UK but this blog is entirely my own views]. There is a worrying statistic that tells us that in the UK there are more than 5 million people over 65 who have never used the internet.
New laptop and printer for my Mum

For people like us writing this and you reading it is inconceivable to think of life now without the internet and all it gives us. Life is swiftly moving to a world that is digital by default. Accessing even the most basic service is likely to be online. We all know that there are enormous cost savings to be made online. Friends to be made and family to keep up with. A world of interesting stories, opportunities to keep your brain awake. You name it and it is there for the taking.

Some people take a lot of convincing and we know what the stated reasons for non take up are but I suspect we will never unearth the real ones that run a little deeper and will never be revealed in surveys. People cannot always be honest with themselves so a survey doesn't stand much chance. Successful projects working on this with older people tend to create low stress, non competitive, sociable environments. People can need to repeat training several times and not feel uncomfortable about it. Some people enjoy being supported by their peers and some work well with young people. Skype is an enormous pull. Touch screen technology has added another dimension to training of course. I wanted a photo so here are some biscuits I made recently for an event - can you guess what they are?
It is what has been termed the "hard to reach" that is the challenge. Isolated people whose only companion is the TV for instance. And here is where you come in ...we have all helped others with computers and mobile phones at some point so we are all experts in our way would you reach out and involve these older people and enhance their lives like it has enhanced yours? And as two thirds of bloggers seem to be from the USA what are the experiences there? I'd love to know.

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