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Silver Surfers Day: 21 May
Friday 21 May 2010 13:21:09 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Today is the ninth annual 'Silver Surfers Day', a day designed to encourage the older generations to get online. Events are being held around the country to help those who have never been online, to grasp basic skills needed to both get online, and to stay safe.

The internet is often seen as a technology for the young with gadgets and gizmos, but in fact the benefits are there for everyone; in fact, in many ways getting the older generations online could yield even greater benefits as it helps to keep them independent.

By shopping online, the elderly can avoid relying on friends and family, and get the full range of choices available to them. Also, by doing so, they will be able to get the best value for money, as comparing prices online is a lot quicker whether it's buying insurance or just groceries.

If you know someone who isn't online yet, and who could benefit, why not help them go online and make the most of the Internet.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
If everybody helped one person get online the job would soon be done. They have to want to be helped though. Some people will never go online as we know it, but could be helped through having a connection via a tv, helpline, family webcam monitor etc.
Problem is the third of the country who can't get a decent enough connection to do most of the funky stuff. And lots of elderly don't want to tweet or contribute to blogs, they want/need other higher bandwidth stuff.
Posted by eandah over 7 years ago
As a 69 year old, who uses Linux, Firefox etc., I find the term "Silver Surfer" both patronizing and insulting. I have introduced many people of a similar age to the use of PCs and explained that there is more to using a PC than "surfing".

What would be at least as useful would be to demonstrate/teach the use of free Operating Systems as well as the (currently) ubiquitous Windows, and then to teach their uses.

Linux is good enough for supercomputers, the BBC, IBM etc., etc., so why not let people know about it?
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 7 years ago
@eandah becuase people are idiots.

Quite happy to live away in their little mac/windows world and not go exploring :)

'fear of the unknown'

People used to think you would die if you went more than 30mph when the car was originally invented... so there is hope.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
^Second that!

You will always have those who will actively explore, the rest will just Facebook/"surf" etc., yeah there are a few left who still don't even know how to do that, but getting them to go further is a no-go me thinks.

Also I stick the W7 currently due to lack of gamer support on Linux along with other specialist programs I have yet to find an alternative for.
Posted by ttreen over 7 years ago
@eandah and @TaRkADaHl
I am a youngster of 60 who was a systems programmer at 25. I too find the term patronising, but to answer criticisms that I "stick to my Mac world", yes - this is mostly true. But OSX is basically industrial strength UNIX, and is very get-attable for those who wish to do so. Equally, a Mac user can just enjoy an intuitive, simple-yet-powerful GUI if that's all they want. After all, every car driver doesn't have to be a highly qualified mechanic, but if you need to feel superior to everyone else, then carry on spouting...
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago
Very many people of all ages have zero interest in the finer workings of their computer. Point, click, works is sufficient. It is not enough to let people know of OS choices, they need to have a reason to want to know. Likewise they need a reason to want to learn to go online to begin with.

There might be a space to highlight such things in advanced classes. In terms of getting people online and teaching the basics, OS choice is largely an irrelevance.

Why not join a club or indeed form one if none exists in your area.
Posted by Kaufhof over 7 years ago
Posted by eandah 1 day ago
As a 69 year old, who uses Linux, Firefox etc., I find the term "Silver Surfer" both patronizing and insulting. I have introduced many people of a similar age to the use of PCs and explained that there is more to using a PC than "surfing".

I absolutely agree - age 72. Linux, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc user.
Posted by Pigmaster over 7 years ago
My parens have had access to PC's for 10years at home, my Mum a bit longer were she worked.

Still it was only yesterday I had the phone call, come over quick the computer is broken and refusing to work.

I rush over and get there to find that their icon for the internet had moved slightly on the desktop.This was their "Come quick it's broken"

People of all ages have access but more importantly they must be able to use it when the shortcut goes missing instead of dialling 999
Posted by alwall over 7 years ago
A patronising article thinkbroadband!
"Marketers who still refer to all internet users aged over 50 as silver surfers are not only in danger of appearing patronising, but they are also failing to differentiate between sub-groups of a demographic that includes some of the country's most affluent people.While silver surfers was a neat way of labelling the older generations online, the picture in 2008 is very different. The variety of web use among 50-plus people means lumping them together in one homogeneous group is no longer a viable -- or profitable -- option." Brandrepublic Aug 2008
Posted by griffiti over 7 years ago
As an 80 yr old at the cutting edge of info technology over 60 yrs ago with a pair of semaphore flags, hoisting bunting up a yardarm, flashing lights and tapping out morse in sometimes pretty hairy conditions,I think what we have today is a doddle, don't knock your elders, who do you think developed all this IT ??.
Posted by Kaufhof over 7 years ago
Well said Sir!
Posted by RepairExpert over 7 years ago
I heartedly agree.
Posted by ivorsoutar over 7 years ago
Yet another 80 year old Silver surfer who likes ubuntu (Linux) and Mac OS over MS Windows.
You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink !
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 7 years ago
@ttreen You don't have to be a highly-qualified mechanic to own a car, but you are required to have a basic understanding of how it works and how to maintain it, this is part of the test now and you can fail if you don't know how to check/top-up the oil.

Should the same not be expected of computer owners?
Posted by LoopZilla over 7 years ago
My hair is silver grey, I am 55, and I have been online (starting on JANET) since 1980. Maybe there is a need for new term?
Posted by colrob over 7 years ago
Happy to report that I don't give a toss for all the 'gadgets and gizmos' so beloved of the guys with square heads. If you want to get involved with the intestines, well that's up to you, but please don't adopt a patronising attitude to me because all I want is the damn thing to do actual jobs for me. Isn't that what it's for?
P.S. I also drive a car, but haven't the slightest interest in 'Top Gear'.
Posted by hefilump over 7 years ago
This would probably have been a useful article but as I only recieved the email about the day on 24th May it was a little late to take part.

As a user of the internet since the early 90's I am not sure if I qualify for the term 'silver surfer' as I am only 47.

But even so I can still get emails to people telling them of events that are going to happen rather than telling them that today is an event that happened 3 days ago!!!
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago

Indeed, some see computers as a tool and others as a hobby. It seems some would have everyone servicing their own appliances.

I wonder if there was the same nonsense with VCR's in the 80's.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
Oh quit the Linux/Open Source adulation - that's a side issue. Wittering on about that whole argument is just going to alienate people. When will you geeks realise that OS choice is irrelevant for 95% of what most people do with computers.

It's like trying to persuade someone to learn to drive by discussing the merits of Vauxhall v. Ford. *It doesn't <bleep> matter to them.*
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
What the 'none participants' need (on the questionable assumption that they 'need' anything) is a computer that works with the minimum of fuss and bother. Right now that still means Windows or Mac. Linux is getting better and some versions are now very close to plug and play 24/7/365 - but I haven't found one yet that doesn't suddenly require you to prat about with a command line or edit a text file or rebuild the kernel.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
You might think it's cool to get involved in all that stuff (and 20 years ago I was doing that with the likes of /Coherent/ and as an early OS/2 adopter). But eventually you'll grow up and realise it's about as useful for the average person as digging around under a car bonnet.

For most people that's a waste of time that just gets them dirty. Most people have no need to worry about their car's engine and the same is true for computers.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
As for 'silver surfers' - meh. I'd like to see people above working age given a chance to play with a computer (perhaps a half day workshop with coffee and biscuits) but if they don't wish to pursue it then leave them be.

They've earned the right to live their lives the way they want and I'd say it's up to society to avoid alienating them. What most of this 'do it online' stuff is about really is saving money for the companies.

I'm also not convinced about the web as a force against social exclusion. I think it's more likely to be the opposite.
Posted by colrob over 7 years ago
You expressed my feelings far better than I did!
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