Silver Surfers Day 2011

This Friday, the 20th May, is Silver Surfers Day where hundreds of volunteers will be available to provide free taster sessions on surfing the internet. The sessions are located in local libraries and other venues throughout N. Ireland.

To learn more visit or watch the video below.

Ronnie Corbett’s Blackberry is not working

Here’s a little Christmas cheer before we break for the holidays.

Ronnie Corbett brings us this hilarious clip on technology from his new show on Christmas Day – The One Ronnie.

As many of you will have guessed it appears to be an update of the Two Ronnie’s classic ‘Four Candles’ sketch.

(Thanks to @Marthalanefox for tweeting)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Benefits of Super-fast broadband

Ofcom have published research into the benefits that next generation broadband could bring to older and disabled people to help promote independent living.

Examples include:

  • remote health monitoring and consultations
  • mentoring and befriending schemes
  • teleworking
  • life-long learning initiatives

Technology such as this should help promote independent living; health, learning, work and other social issues are mentioned frequently within the report: Next Generation Services for Older and Disabled People (pdf).

This technology will open the door to numerous beneficial applications and when realised fully in the years to come will change many people’s lives. However, it’s imperative that media and digital literacy awareness among the target group is maintained so they can benefit when it arrives.

Great resources can be found on the web such as this A- Z of computing by AgeUK; which is a good starter at any age. Hopefully, such resources will continue to evolve as technology advances and new devices and applications emerge.

Adult Learners’ Week 2010 and Silver Surfers’ Day begins

The Adult Learners’ Week 2010 campaign begins tomorrow.  It’s aim is to encourage adults, of any age and background, to give learning a go. EGSA has supported this campaign for many years and we are continuing to do so by compiling a guide to local NI events on our website.

An important part of ALW 2010 is Silver Surfers’ Day (SSD) on the 21st May.  It’s a national day that focuses on helping those over 50 get online.  SSD receives national publicity with just yesterday Terry Wogan speaking on the benefits of surfing the net on BBC breakfast news. Digital Unite coordinates the event and has set-up two websites to support it:

Locally, SSD is supported by Department of Finance and Personnel and Business in the Community – learn more here. It’s primarily driven by volunteers in libraries across Northern Ireland, and consists of fun taster sessions on the internet, e-mail, online banking, shopping and much more.  See EGSA’s SSD page for a list of events.

New PC to encourage older users

Today the BBC News Technology website has an interesting story about a new computer that is designed to encourage older people to get online.

The simplified desktop – called SimplicITy – has just six buttons directing users to basic tasks such as e-mail and chat.

The computer comes pre-loaded with 17 video tutorials from television presenter Valerie Singleton
BBC Tech: New PC to encourage older users

From reading the article this certainly seems a step in the right direction and is addressing a number of barriers.

Andrew Harrop, head of public policy for charity Age Concern and Help the Aged said efforts to get older people online should be “applauded”.

“Pensioners who aren’t online are missing out on hundreds of pounds in potential savings by shopping around and can also often miss out on the best interest rates for savings accounts, not to mention the social benefits of being online,” he said.

It looks like the private sector has stepped up to the challenge.

Tech Note:
The computer is built using Linux operating system, a free operating system that can be customised by users.

Technology and internet are good for older people!

I’ve noticed a few articles appearing recently discussing the benefits of technology and the internet for older people.


“Googling is good for grandparents. Internet use can boost the brain activity of the elderly, potentially slowing or even reversing the age-related declines that can end in dementia, researchers have found.”
Web can help elderly surfers slow dementia

“Our most striking finding was that internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading.”

“Searching online may be a simple form of brain exercise that might be employed to enhance cognition in older adults.”
Moody and Small, UCLA Researchers


We all know that being online presents economic benefits such as greater choice and lower prices etc to online users, but encouraging more older people to participate could also help with ecomonic growth.

“Getting older people online and digitally enabled will empower them to reap benefits for themselves but also support finding solutions to sustainable, high quality social and health care for an ageing population. The potential business opportunities are huge, so long as market barriers can continue to be addressed and ethical dimensions are considered in full.”
Older people and technology- a social need, an economic opportunity? Dr Gail Bradbrook, Citizens Online (pdf report)

Social Inclusion

A recent Ofcom study has found that older people are continuing to embrace social networking tools such as blogging and Facebook.  These tools are providing another channel of communicate with friends and family for those who are digitally literate and confident enough to use them – a simple example of how digital participantion can help with social inclusion.

“This is good news and an encouraging trend. With social networking become such a integral part of people’s lives it is vital that certain groups in society, like older people, are not left behind.”
Jason Glynn, uSwitch: Social networking boom among older people – Ofgem

As more people, especially older people, are getting online, they are experimenting with social networking and blogging, according to regulator Ofcom. More people are using the internet to create their own content than ever before with 38% of online users having a social networking profile, compared with 22% in 2007.
Social networking booming with doubling of online profiles

Call to support ICT literacy for Silver Surfers

In a recent report, “Learning for Living”, Help the Aged have noted that many older people feel left behind by the pace of change in technology and the lack of support needed to keep up-to-date.  This raises concerns that many will be left digitally exluded as more information and services move online.

The report states that:

“Government and policy-makers need to take action to provide older people with real opportunities to learn about the benefits of being online.”

There are eight recommendations:

“Government must invest in ICT literacy …”

“the silo structures of government must be broken down …”

“… campaign is needed to highlight the benefits of getting online”

“… make the most of the available resources … to deliver digital inclusion”

“… force accessibility up the agenda and … highlight the business benefits of ICT accessibility”

“… Government needs to review its digital strategy …”

“Government should continue funding ICT initiatives …”

“… BBC and other bodies should take proactive steps to guard against all learning content being moved online …”

Interestingly, the report notes that understanding technology is the second most popular course choice among older people at 59% (page 6).

Direct link to report (pdf 965k)

Other articles covering the “Learning for Living” report:

Silver Surfing needs boost (NICVA)

Help the Aged in Northern Ireland has launched a new report highlighting the importance of adult learning (CARDI)