My parents are in their mid 60s – unusual for someone my age by actually for the most part it’s a blessing. They’ve lived full lives and raised children before me. I got the director’s cut of parenting as it were. Sure it was still imperfect, perfection is unattainable, but it did mean that my parents stayed in contact with the younger generation for much longer than many of their peers.

When their friends’ children were buying their first houses I was building my first gaming PC as a teenager. I was a different generation and as such grew up around a lot more sophisticated technology.

I did my best to teach my mother how to use technology and more importantly how to learn to use new things. I would have done the same for my father but he tended towards earlier adoption and seemed to mostly find his own way. As it transpires he has amusing blind spots when it comes to this sort of thing, but I think I can forgive him that (apart from when he’s deliberately winding me up…).

My mother, like many of her generation used to be of the mindset “I have to be careful or I’ll break the computer!” but over time and with a combination of encouragement and scolding I seem to have got her past this.

I spoke to her earlier today on Skype from New Zealand and she told me someone had been talking to her about storing photos in the cloud. This amused us both as she’s been doing that for about a year now via Dropbox.

We also talked about the Raspberry Pi and while I don’t think she necessarily grasped all the details it does mean that if it comes up in conversation or on the news she has at least a bit of a starting point.

So, I’m rambling around a point, you might expect. You would be right, you always are. Linky.

This bit stood out for me:

According to Ofcom, more than 7.5 million adults have never used the internet. Many of these are older - two-fifths are over 75.

I got thinking about this and what sprang to mind was when people say “I don’t need that” (often in reference to smart phones). Now I don’t dispute the lack of need as really, they’re not necessary.

However used correctly they’re fantastic.

I can think of several people though who say that but seem to have no real concept of what they’re saying they don’t want.

Lacking empathy I cannot imagine what they see such devices as. To me my smartphone handles email, sure, but I also use it for cooking, design, photography, documentation, communication (through IM/SMS/Twitter), and various other things.

The camera aspect alone is something that seems lost on many. With a modern smartphone you always have a camera with you. Sure it’s not going to beat a DSLR, but for normal point-and-shoot stuff it’s fine!

More importantly than that though – it’s always with you!

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

I very much doubt we’re doing a good job of explaining what the modern internet offers in any practical way. In the article I linked to the stuff described seems dull as all hell!

Teaching someone how to send attachments? When did any of us internet denizens do that last?

If I want to share a document I’d stick it on Google Docs/Drive. If it was an image I’d pop it on Imgur. Attachments can only be 10 – 20 MB or so anyway so what would I use it to send?

I’d rather encourage older folk to record videos of themselves talking about things, write a blog about their hobbies, lives, and thoughts, get involved with Reddit and its myriad of boards, or, just maybe, play some games!

Or you know, let’s teach them how to use a word processor. Fun. Good if you want to write a stern letter to the council, I suppose, but hardly very invigorating, is it?

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