Older folk from Bromley and surrounding areas tap into the internet world
PUBLISHED: 10:15 25 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:15 25 February 2013
There is so much online now - chatting, banking, shopping, music, books - that the days without Google, email, eBay and iTunes seem incomprehensible to many people.
However, it isn’t everyone who feels this way, as the internet and the benefits it offers remain unexplored territory to more than 5.3 million older people in this country.
To many, the internet seems foreign and inaccessible, but it could change the lives of those who are perhaps unable to travel to visit friends, have difficulty hearing on the telephone or just feel lonely and isolated.
In the coming weeks, the Age UK charity is set to announce its Internet Champion of the Year 2013, someone aged 55 or older whose story of getting to grips with the web could inspire others to follow their example.
David Mortimer, head of digital inclusion at Age UK, said: “We know first hand that the internet can have a massively positive effect on the lives of older people and we know there are many to still be convinced.”
Val Buckley, 68, Bromley
My daughter told me I should get a computer and keep up with the times.
I had never even turned one on and so I joined a class in Widmore Road, Bromley, and I was just really excited to do things like play Solitaire.
I then broke my leg and couldn’t go to class, but I learned enough to get by and can use eBay, Microsoft Office and look at photos.
As you get older, you can feel a bit left behind, like when people got mobile phones, but learning [to use a computer] has allowed me to catch up and stay up to date.
I wouldn’t say I know my way around a computer better than my daughter, but there are probably things I know that she doesn’t.
My husband doesn’t know how to use them, he can’t even turn it on.
Kenneth Tuffrey, 79, Greenhithe
I missed out in the early days. I never thought it would get as big as it has.
I found that I was getting behind the times. Everything I wanted to do was online, so I had to get on a computer.
The biggest problem with older people is they are frightened of breaking everything.
When we were young, everything was very valuable and you were always told not to touch something as you might break it.
Our grandchildren are so brave pressing so many buttons.
I found it difficult at first, but with the instructions that we get at the computer class, it’s easy.
I send emails to my family and friends. My family work unusual hours, so sometimes we have a problem in trying to meet up.
I can send them an email and they open it at their leisure.
Amanda Coutinho, 70, Bexley
My daughter was always saying I should get a computer, but I had no time to do it.
She said if I did a course, she would buy me a laptop, which she now has. I use email and I look at news from Goa, where I am from.
My son used to print articles and bring them to us, but now my husband and I sit around the computer and read them.
I am disabled and my fingers are deformed, so it takes me time to do things, but I just type with one finger.
My husband doesn’t want to learn, but I think he will change his mind.
My life has changed a lot. I skype my family in Goa and my sister who lives in Canada.
I look up different crochet stitches and now I want to do a hygiene certificate.
I also have a lot of friends online.