Information Technology (IT) – or the ability to use it- is probably the most significant divider of generations in the early 21st Century. Youngsters today are ‘digital natives’- they have grown up with IT and are at ease and confident using it. Everyone else is a ‘digital imigtrant’- they have had to learn a new language and culture. For some this has been relatively easy as they have learned gradually, often been provided with courses and training at work and began to use IT for daily tasks and social networking. They have become ‘fluent’. For others, it has remained something mysterious and strange and the faster things move the harder it seems to become to catch up.
IT does not just mean being able to use a computer. It includes using mobile phones and all the different things computers can do for you, such as social networking- Facebook, Twitter and the like. So, does it matter if you can do all these things? Well, if you are trying to Age Proof your life, IT cannot be ignored and you can find the bits that will work for you. There are many advantages to being able to use IT, even at a basic level.
Being able to use a mobile phone for calls and texting (SMS) gives you more flexibility and allows you to join in more easily with what younger generations in your family are doing. It could be important for safety too. If you can use the internet, you have many services at your fingertips that can be helpful if you become less able to get about, such as getting your grocery shopping delivered or buying gifts online. Social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc) often receive a bad press, but they can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family and, perhaps more importantly, they are becoming the way that news breaks and the political process works, so the ability to use them helps you to stay engaged in the wider world. How about Skype to speak to and see friends and family on the other side of the world?
If you don’t know where to start younger family members may be able to help. Your local library may have computers and possibly groups that will help you get started. Some councils run schemes to help older people use computers and the internet. To begin with keep it simple and concentrate on one or two things that will make a difference in your life. The other day I met a lady in her late 70s who had just bought a lap top computer. She had never used a computer before but her son is emigrating to Australia in 6 months and she is determined to start now and learn to email and Skype so that she can keep in touch. What better reason to learn something new?