I have a friend whose two-year-old grandson calls her Skype. I havenít quite decided if thatís pathetic or commendable. But keeping in touch with friends and relatives through video conferencing and email is probably the most common single purpose for which seniors use computers. Through video contact you can witness a grandchildís first steps, read to a toddler, or check out a Halloween costume.
For many seniors, email was the first contact with the e-world. Itís a bit of a jump from newsy hand written letters to succinct emails and texts that ignore timeless (well, maybe not) conventions of orthography, syntax and eloquence. But many seniors have made that leap. One source says 53 per cent of seniors over 65 use email. My guess is that figure is much higher for Whistler seniors. Most of us have even figured out that LOL doesnít mean Lots of Love. Maybe youíre ready to try this: G2CU last night. What a party! I was ROFL, then SHID because really it was a WOMBAT. Maybe I was IOMH, but YWSYLS. Anyway, IDC. BTW send me your EMA. G2G. H2CUS.<3, your BFF. (Good to see you last night. What a party! I was rolling on the floor laughing, then slapping my head in disgust because it really was a waste of money and time. Maybe I was in over my head - but you win some, you lose some. Anyway, I donít care. By the way, send me your email address. Got to go. Hope to see you soon. Love, your best friend forever.) No problem, right?
To consolidate or to proliferate? On the one hand people seem to be acquiring more devices. These days itís not unusual for a person to have a laptop, a smart phone, a tablet, a camera and an e-book. On the other hand devices like smart phones and tablets are capable of handling several functions. Tech-savvy senior Stacey Murl uses her smart phone for most functions: ďI have my life on my phone,Ē she said. Stacy even uses the voice recognition capability for sending email.
Other applications popular with seniors include researching and booking travel options, following the stock market, keeping track of finances, organizing and storing photos, and on-line shopping. Of course we all need to support our community by shopping locally when possible, but sometimes options are limited. Having hunted in vain in the obvious places for a pair of glitzy shoes for a country wedding, I ended up ordering a pair on-line. With my daughter-in-lawís help, it took about 15 minutes. Theyíll be here next week. Watch for me in my Low Gold Nike Blazer Sequin Glitter Premium Retro Sneakers.
Really, itís not that different from shopping through the Eatonís Catalogue, except of course Eatonís probably didnít carry LGNBSGPRSís.
Library staff told me seniors have embraced e-books in greater numbers than have younger people. Perhaps cost and frequent travel are factors. My source at the library also indicated many seniors are early adopters of tablets. In fact many have leapfrogged over laptops and gone directly to tablets. Not surprising as they are intuitive, portable multi-taskers capable of handling email and video conferencing, taking photos, and accessing the internet.
One of the best things about the internet is it helps us be connected with our community so we can access opportunities and be a part of the local senior voice to each other and to government. Check out the Mature Action Community (MAC) at www.whistlermac.org It has a wealth of information and will keep you up to date with activities and political initiatives. Club 50, Whistlerís social club for seniors communicates with members through email. President Stacey Murl says, ďIf you donít have an email addressÖGET ONE!!Ē Your grandchildren can help set you up. If you are interested in developing or improving your computer skills, the Whistler Public Library offers a range of courses. www.whistlerlibrary.ca Letís plug in! G2G.
Did you Know: There are 4 computers at the seniorsí centre at the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) in Spring Creek. They were provided by a government grant and set up by Bob Murl. They are equipped with WiFi and are available for seniors to use for free. Phone Melissa Deller at 604-902-0865 to arrange a time. Melissa can help with the basics but is not a computer guru.