Whilst we are all keen Internet users and are happy to jump on the net to doing our banking, look up movie times, find out information on the government websites and whatever else you want to do online, there are some in the community who do not want to do this. They prefer the old fashioned way of doing things, but it is becoming harder for them to do this as more and more is being putting online with the assumption that everybody can access it. I think while discuss the right of people to access the internet and get their information, we need to also consider the right of people not to.
Take my mother who is in her 80s. We have tried to introduce her to computers. She could have learned when I lived with her and had my computer and I tried to teach her, but it was clear that it really stressed her. She was given an old laptop from my sister in the hope that she might learn more but it was clear she didn’t want to and fortunately for her the laptop stopped working anyway. She said she felt bullied into learning computers and at her age why should she have to learn something new. I actually support her in this. She shouldn’t have to, but sadly she is finding it harder to access the information she needs without going online. Her favourite newspaper The Weekly Telegraph (a UK paper for expats) sent her a letter to inform her that they were no longer printing the paper. She could subscribe and access the online version and even get a tablet if she wanted. Yes she could, but why should she have to. Mum told me that she went to the cinema and didn’t get good seats because everybody else had booked them online. She misses out on discounts from not paying bills online. Companies have also started charging for paper bills. Now they do take it off senior citizens’ bills but they do not necessarily make it clear. It concerns me that she is increasingly becoming disadvantaged by not being online. Internet services will increase whilst face to face services will decrease and make it harder for people like my mother. A UK report suggests that by 2030 700,000 elderly people will be disadvantaged due to the internet and will feel isolated. Ironically The Telegraph (the same paper which stopped printing my mother’s paper) states that
“A study found that a growing shift by banks, utility companies, shops and community groups to carrying out their activities on the web will leave 703,000 over 60s remaining offline at the end of the next decade in situations akin to “living in a home with no windows”. “
Now there are some good programs such Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland available, to teach them how to use computers and access the Internet. I think it is great to see them taking on new technologies and accepting progress. Unfortunately not all are like this and at mother’s age, I think they should have the right to decide not to follow progress if they want.