News story

Silver Surfers Day attempts to encourage older people online

Learning News

As the UK today celebrates the annual Silver Surfers Day to encourage older people online, is taking the fear out of the digital world for the older computer novice with a host of free self-paced online interactive courses.

Silver Surfers Day is the biggest national campaign to promote the use of digital technologies by older people and is being run by Digital Unite this Friday, May 21st. Over one thousand five hundred events will be taking place across the UK offering older people a gentle introduction to using a computer and getting online. The organizers have persuaded Dame Vera Lynn to record a video message encouraging people to learn how to download music, while Terry Wogan has been telling everyone who will listen that "it's so easy that any old Janet and John could get online".

The day coincides with reports that Britons are spending more time than ever online. According to the UK Online Measurement company (UKOM), British web users are spending 65% more time online than three years ago. As the internet and technology become more and more ubiquitous in normal everyday life, it is important that older people are not left behind. Many older people can lack the confidence to engage with new technology for the first time and some can even be fearful. Furthermore, some older people are apathetic towards emerging technology as they are unable to see the benefits these technologies can offer.

Silver Surfers Day aims to dispel the fear and myths surrounding the digital world today by tentatively introducing the older computer novice to the online world and giving them a taste of what current technologies have to offer. The day also aims to show people the vista of opportunities that today's technology has to offer such as instantly communicating with family and friends on the other side of the world, finding songs from yesteryear and the opportunity to send old photos to family members

Getting people online not only offers practical assistance, but research is beginning to suggest that learning new skills online offers a whole host of eudemonic and salubrious benefits such as improved attention, communication and memory skills and less dependence on medication. Engaging the elderly in learning activities, evidence suggests improves the quality of their lives and reduces the costs to the nation of health and social care.

Kathryn James, programme director at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) says "A lot of older learners say that learning gives them confidence and a second chance to learn things they were not able to do before. It's the thrill of getting the brain engaged and feeling that they are still alive, still connected - still useful to society"

Learning skills online and learning about the usefulness of practical computer skills is ideal for older people., the world's leading provider of free online courses has thrown its weight behind Silver Surfers Day and is currently offering a suite of over 70 free self-paced interactive courses. Courses range from IT and Digital Literacy to Health and Safety to Personal Development skills. These courses are ideal for the beginner to get a broad knowledge of the benefits of computers in today's world and offers practical, self-paced, step-by-step tutorials on how to set up an email account, create spreadsheets, and write in AJAX programming code to name but a few.