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‘Ohana > More OhanaSummer 2013 IS Magazine

Grands Online

Seniors take to the Internet with surprising ease.

By Paula Bender

Seniors take to the Internet with surprising ease.

Now that the Internet can fit in our purses and pockets, access and connectivity reinforce the fibers of our families. School-age children have online assignments and many of us log on for work, socializing, shopping, and paying bills. Families spread across the globe can use the Internet to feel closer.

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, more than half of Americans over age 65 regularly use the Internet and about 70 percent of them go online every day. Many of them use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and some log on to LinkedIn to stay connected professionally.

Count Hawai‘i’s seniors among the tech-savvy set. SeniorNet was established at Honolulu Community College (HCC) in the mid-1980s, which links Hawai‘i seniors with their peers on the Mainland and in Canada. HCC has become a hub of activity for people 55 years and older who are interested in taking non-credit computer and Internet classes.

Depending on availability, classes focus on computer basics, the Internet, and email. Seniors can learn how to engage online without disclosing sensitive personal information, such as their exact location, credit card and bank accounts, or Social Security numbers.

Through a partnership with Microsoft Corp., courses about PC Windows® cover online shopping, personalizing your computer, and photo editing programs. The Apple Inc. iPad courses are popular and teach seniors how to use the device to surf the Internet, edit photos, write and edit, read e-books, listen to music, and experience FaceTime with others.

Don’t underestimate your uncle, auntie, or tūtū and expect them to be satisfied with only online word games or email. Today, seniors share photographs and music online, write and read blogs, reconnect with old friends, visit dating websites, excavate their ancestry, weigh in on social issues, comment on media websites, and research medical conditions.

Remember, however, that surfing the Internet can be a solitary practice. For in-real-life encounters, people 55 years and older are encouraged to join the Emeritus Club at HCC, which is open while University of Hawai‘i college classes are in session. Emeritus Club members get discounts on select Emeritus computer workshops, access to the Open Computer Lab, and an opportunity to socialize with others.

Volunteers are on duty at the Open Computer Lab from 12:30 to 3 p.m. to answer questions. Lab users should bring their own computer supplies such as USB drives. For more information, visit the Seniors/Emeritus College web page.

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