What excites old people

Kelkheim (dpa / tmn) - Discovered a delicious recipe, read an email from your grandchildren and then ordered a drug: the Internet can open up new opportunities for older people. But some do not dare to learn the technique. Entry is always possible.

Günter Born doesn't think of age as a supposed hurdle. "I know 80-year-olds who explain things to you that you had no idea about yourself," says the author from Kelkheim, who wrote the book "Internet - Easy Entry for Seniors". He knows: "Once the fear of the new technology is gone, seniors will be enthusiastic about it."

Household tips, travel reports and product comparisons are just a click away. "Those who like to cook can easily pick out lots of new recipe ideas," explains Nicola Röhricht from the Service Society of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens' Organizations (BAGSO). The quickest way to gain access to the benefits of the Internet is through your own interests.

In addition, there are completely new ways to keep in touch with your family. With the Skype service you can make free calls - even across national borders - and you can even see yourself on video. Social networks such as Facebook provide information about the life of loved ones without the need for personal contact.

Older people can also find many websites on the Internet that deal with their interests and needs. Addresses such as senioren-ratgeber.de and Feierabend.de are just two examples. All kinds of special topics are covered: some pages deal with life as grandparents or show extravagant fashions by older women.

"Older people can also benefit from online shopping," explains Röhricht. Those who can no longer do their own errands can order over the Internet and they can easily be delivered. For example supermarkets and pharmacies offer such services.

Despite such advantages, many older people are afraid of the digital world. "Sometimes they believe that with just one click they break something or download a virus straight away," says Born. It is all the more important to acquire basic knowledge about this new technology. How does a browser work? How do you use google? In most cases, they are also not familiar with handling devices such as PCs or tablets.

Local associations and senior citizens' offices offer computer and internet courses for this purpose. There are usually interest groups in which seniors can learn from seniors, explains Röhricht. "This is often better than when young people explain the new technology to their grandparents, for example. Older people have a similar mindset and better understand problems that one can have with technology," she says. Many adult education centers also offer appropriate courses.

Some elderly people find it difficult to use a mouse and keyboard. "A tablet is then the ideal entry-level device to discover the Internet," says Röhricht. These devices can be controlled by pressing the screen. But that also has its pitfalls. "With increasing age, the skin often becomes drier. This can lead to problems when using the touchscreen," said Born. He advises to test the device extensively before buying it and to find out whether it works without problems.

If you type a lot anyway and want to do other tasks on the computer in addition to surfing the net, you better use a laptop, says Born. It also makes it easier to print documents.

In order to surf the Internet safely, the same rules apply to older people as to all other web users. The computer needs up-to-date virus protection, the operating system should always be up to date. "It is best to activate the automatic update for both," advises Barbara Steinhöfel from the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center. If you have a WiFi network set up in your own four walls, you should ensure that the access is encrypted and provided with a secure password.

Relatives, acquaintances or employees of senior citizens' associations can help set up devices and Internet access. Some Internet providers also have special offers for this, but most of them are chargeable, says Röhricht.

Service: Günter Born (2014): Internet - Easy entry for seniors, ISBN 978-3-945384-25-1, 19.95 euros