Joseph Videtto

Have you helped an older person learn to use a computer and the Internet, and how?

22 Feb 2013
Chrome 24
22 Feb 2013 | Windows | Chrome 24

Hi – My mom’s an older women who was never into electronics or anything technical (she’s about 75).

She has learned to send an email, from Gmail, after 1 year of computer classes. When any of the button positions change, she needs a month or two to learn the new navigation (I need to find a new email client where the button positions will never change again – but that rules out her ability to work remotely from the library or a friend’s house – which she doesn’t really do now anyway).

The new typical web page is so busy with many, many GUI objects/controls/advertisements, even online shopping at Amazon is a challenge for her.

I’m hoping to take her to the next steps after email, given she’s an older person whom technology is an incredibly difficult challenge. I’m thinking things she would most enjoy are:

  1. Shopping online see above – web pages are very complicated to her given the number of objects, and locating the write objects to click and type in – I’m not sure we’ll ever overcome that – I wish I had a script that would allow me to strip everything out of an Amazon page except for the item name, description, price, and reviews.
  2. Internet Radio – she likes old Italian music – though I’m not sure of the apps with the least-busy navigation menus to put her on to access this music.
  3. Facebook, or some type of social website – got her an account, but of course, she’s afraid

Another problem has been her eyesight – she doesn’t like to wear her glasses, the glasses are probably not powerful enought, and so I’ve had to enlarge her fonts. This has created the problem of additional scrolling with navigation sidebars – which she always forgets to do, and takes away the bird’s eye view of the structure of the page (and she’s ‘afraid’ that a larger monitor will be ‘too big’).

Has anyone else had some challenges in helping an older person that grew up in an era where the most complicated device they learned to control was a TV or radio with 1 on/off switch and 1 tuner control, who is afraid and overwhelmed by new technology and the typical busy web page and complex (relatively speaking) navigation required ?

Please share your personal experiences with such a person, and any tips you might have to help them more easily enjoy the new web.

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