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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Should Elderly be Encouraged to Get Online?

According to some figures, over 6 million elderly in the UK alone have never been online. A new PC, SimplicITy, is aimed at these elderly. SimplicITy has just six buttons and 17 video tutorials, and is made-to-order. There is no login screen nor any drop-down menus. SimplicITy opens up to "Square One," containing links to such things as e-mail, chat, files, et.al. The unit also comes with an eldy.org e-mail address. The OS is a modified and simplified version of Linux.

Many are applauding the computer, noting that the elderly who are not online are missing out on savings, as well as social activities. However, I'm wondering if this is a good idea.

I worked tech support, and in the course of that job, I encountered more than my fair share of... morons. And though only a portion of those were older users, we are talking about people who are not only old, but completely inexperienced. I think the dangers of the Internet far outweigh any benefits. I think they will be overrun by spam - much of which they may end up falling for - and abused in forums and chatrooms.

The Web is a large, and largely dirty, place. While the SimplicITy unit is a good idea, I don't know that many older citizens even care to be netizens. Further, I'm not sure how good an idea it is to encourage older people to get online.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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