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Using the Internet with Confidence: Tips for Seniors

Guest writer Maria Rainier has some super tips to for that newly liberated group of computer users – Seniors.

imageLike many young people, I have to say that there are many benefits to using the Internet. However, I’m not under the impression that a quick e-mail can replace a handwritten note or card that can be received in the mail.

Sometimes, the tangible is still better. But in terms of finding information, communicating quickly, and enjoying the benefits of networking and online communities, the Internet has a lot to offer. And it’s not difficult to navigate.

Don’t let the apparent complexity and ambiguous nature of the Web intimidate you or cause you to write it off as the next trend headed straight for anonymity. It’s here to stay, and it’s a valuable tool for anyone who knows how to use it efficiently.

For some tips on conquering this new frontier, read on, but first – give yourself a pat on the back for finding this blog online. You could probably give your friends some pointers already.

Deciding to Master Internet Use

If you’re going to learn more about using the Web efficiently and successfully, it will help to commit yourself to the cause. Learning to use the Internet will take some time and energy, so be prepared to invest these resources in exchange for the valuable skills you can obtain.

Even if you get frustrated, decide now that you’ll keep asking questions, continuing to learn how best to use the comprehensive resource that is the Internet.

Getting General Instruction from a Credible Source

First, ask a family member to help you. It will enable you to spend time together and let a younger member of the family know that he or she is needed. One of the best advantages to this method is, you’ll be able to ask questions as they arise without worrying about interrupting a class or flipping through a book’s index to try to locate the answer. It won’t take much time to learn the basics, and from there, you’ll be able to pick up some books at your local library that will cover more in-depth subjects. A working knowledge of the Internet can open up other resources for you, so take advantage of your family members’ knowledge if you can.

Another option is – sign up for a free class at your library or senior center. Simply check the scheduled events next time you go to these places or, if you’re feeling frisky, look them up online and try to find the schedules there. You can always go the route of calling to ask about these classes if there’s no schedule posted online. The advantage to this method is that the instructors are often experienced and won’t steer you in the wrong direction, and you can always ask questions once the class is over.

Protecting Your Computer and Yourself

Before you start experimenting with the Internet, try to learn about installing a good firewall. You might choose to purchase protection or try free versions, but it’s important to make sure that your information is safe and that you’ll be notified if you land on dangerous Web pages so that you can navigate away quickly.

You can also help protect your Internet experience by being aware of phishing scams such as false “official” e-mails that demand immediate attention. Anything with links or demands for personal information that comes from someone you don’t know should be deleted. By paying close attention to instruction on Internet safety and asking questions on this topic, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your new surfing skills.

Taking Advantage of Online Resources

The following websites contain more information that can help you if you’re interested in learning more.

Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s Internet Safety for Seniors

Australia’s Seniors.gov Internet Tools and Tips

Microsoft’s Your Digital Life for Seniors

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, performing research surrounding online universities and their various program offerings. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Seniors, Older Adult Computer Users, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools