One in six Irish adults have never used the internet. The CSO Household Survey 2017 found that one in nine households have no internet connection, with more than half of older people saying they either don’t know how to log on, or they go for months without turning on their computer.

Does this matter? We believe it does. Older people who are not computer savvy are in danger of being marginalised or left behind. This is now known as the digital gap or digital divide.

‘Closing the Gap’ is the title of the free computer support for older people in Dublin city centre. All those aged 55+ are welcome. Tuition is one-to-one, at the learner’s pace, and provided by a trained tutor, who is another older person. The course will cover the internet, Smart phones, iPads, Skype and any other introductory skill the student wants to master. The drop-in centre also provides free internet access and support.

‘Closing the Gap’ is a new programme offered by SeniorLine, Ireland’s only dedicated telephone service for older people. SeniorLine receives over 1,000 calls a month, many from very lonely older people. The service knows at first-hand how being cut off from others increases loneliness and negatively affects our physical and mental wellbeing.

Being IT literate can help us reach out to others. The Internet is a place where we can access information and have a window on the world of news, current affairs, health information, and entertainment. This can promote feelings of autonomy and independence and personal fulfilment. Video and computer games often decried for the young are proving useful for older people in expanding attention, improving memory and increasing sequencing abilities.

So computer courses for older people are needed and timely. So much of Irish life is now being conducted on line, including shopping, banking, booking holidays or Skyping family members abroad. Communicating by email and text as well as by phone adds to our channels for social engagement, helping us to stay connected.

As an Active Retirement Ireland member, you are already socially engaged. But you may want to brush up on your computing skills. Or you may have a friend or spouse that could benefit. .

For more information on ‘Closing the Gap’ contact SeniorLine administrator telephone – 087-9031265

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