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How the internet is offering a new lease of life

PUBLISHED: 09:59 14 December 2012 | UPDATED: 10:09 14 December 2012

Kenneth Tuffrey

Kenneth Tuffrey

Archant

The Reporter has spoken with three elderly Kent residents who have been introduced to the wonderful World Wide Web and haven’t looked back.

There is so much online now – chatting, banking, shopping, music, books – that the days without Google, email, eBay and iTunes seem incomprehensible to many.

But it isn’t everyone who feels this way as the internet and the benefits it offers remain unexplored territory to more than 5.3 million older people in the UK.

For many, the internet seems foreign and inaccessible, but it could change the lives of those who are perhaps unable to travel to visit friends, or having difficulty hearing on the telephone, or just feeling isolated.

Age UK is searching for its Internet Champion of the Year 2013 – someone aged 55 or over whose life has been changed for the better by learning to use the internet who can inspire others.

David Mortimer, head of digital inclusion at Age UK, said: “We know first-hand that the internet can have a massively positive effect on the lives of older people and we know that there as many still to be convinced.”

Kenneth Tuffrey, 79, from Greenhithe

I missed out in the early days. I never thought it would get as big as it has. I found that I was getting behind the times. Everything I wanted to do was online so I had to get on a computer. The biggest problem with older people is they are frightened of breaking it. When we were young everything was very valuable and you were always told not to touch something as you might break it. Our grandchildren are so brave pressing so many buttons. I found it difficult at first but with the instructions that we get at the computer class it’s easy. I send emails to my family and friends. My family work unusual hours, sometimes we have a problem of trying to meet up. I can send them an email and they open it at their leisure. I have a friend in Australia who is 81 and I last saw him 2000. We started emailing last year which has come in very handy. People can’t see how it is going to improve their live until they start using it and realise how it can.

Amanda Coutinho, 70, from Bexley

My daughter was always saying I should get a computer but I had no time to do it. She said if I did a course she would buy me a laptop, which she now has. I use email and I look up news from Goa where I am from. My son used to print articles and bring them to us but now my husband and I sit around the computer and read them. I am disabled and my fingers are deformed so it takes me time to do things but I just do type with one finger. My husband doesn’t want to learn but I think he will change his mind. My life has changed a lot. I skype my family in Goa and my sister who lives in Canada, I look up different crochet stitches and now I want to do a hygiene certificate. I also have a lot of friends online.

Thea Jonckheer, 93, Orpington

The internet has changed my life enormously. My daughter introduced it to me one evening. She wrote down fantastic, easy notes and added the email addresses of all my family and friends so now all I have to do is click on the name to write to anybody I want. I feel I am in the world. I can reach anybody I like. I have family and friends across the world I sent letters to but it is easy to be lazy and not go to the post office to send them. Now we email and are in constant contact. I really want an iPad. It is very quick I can send little things on my lap.

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