Home » If you feel old, lonely and wary of the internet, do what I did – learn Zoom | Esther Rantzen

If you feel old, lonely and wary of the internet, do what I did – learn Zoom | Esther Rantzen

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TThe last thing I’ve ever wanted to do is to lecture my “older and better people” (as my grandmother called the older generation) about their behavior. .. We oldies already know how to stay happy and healthy. We ate jabs, exercised, quit smoking, and ate greens. So you don’t need a young whisk snapper to tell you what to do, or worse, an older TV host. But I learned an important lesson two years after Covid hit. And I thought maybe others could benefit from it too. It’s about the internet.

My generation is very wary of the internet. This is a view I understand and share to some extent. There are new warnings every day about the dangers of cyberspace. It is a scam and scammer aimed at the elderly. Callers to the Silverline Helpline, which I founded as a resource for seniors 10 years ago, tried to navigate this jungle with a mouse, keyboard, and mysterious screen, a challenge that defeated them. I often say that. According to a 2019 National Bureau of Statistics survey Less than half over 75 years old They said they recently used the internet.

It doesn’t really matter, except that so many are migrating online. The march of victorious technology has left so many older people very isolated. to shop. My grandmother exchanged gossip with her shopkeeper who enjoys her pottery around High Street, greets her in her name, takes care of her family, and recognizes and evaluates her. Did. Now my high street is a entanglement of charity shops and some remaining chain stores and supermarkets. The human face was replaced by clicking on the screen.

Even before the pandemic, Age UK found that there were 1.4 million elderly people in the UK. I often felt lonely.. Loneliness is stigmatized and is not easy to admit. The word most often heard from callers to the Silverline Helpline is the word “b” – “burden”. One person anonymously wrote to me that she lost her 54-year-old husband, so she “may go three days at a time without talking to anyone.” I’m an optimist in nature, and when I feel like a waste of space, I may need it to survive another pointless day. It’s no wonder that loneliness can seriously damage your physical and mental health.

I don’t think there is a magic bullet that fights loneliness. But seeing how technology is blocking older people, I was surprised during the blockade that technology could provide a solution. When I couldn’t meet each other, my family and friends took me home. I couldn’t travel or hug, but I was still able to laugh, chat and send pictures to each other every day. Work continued – I attended weekly meetings via FaceTime and Skype. If only Boris Johnson realized that he could have a party with Zoom, as I did. It’s convenient and easy, and I still do it. Although I live deep in the forest, I still feel connected to the outside world, and the skills I learned during the blockade continue to prove to me every day.

The important thing is to get started. Third Age University U3A conducted tutorials during the blockade to encourage members to use the Internet, improve their skills and enjoy themselves. In one session, 80 U3A members playing the ukulele participated in a virtual jam session. When Covid first drove me from London to the wild beauty of New Forest, Zoomand Teams meetings and streaming videos weren’t possible because there was only a very fragile 3km copper wire connecting the laptop to the outside world. .. I knew too much about how important high quality broadband is. Six months later, even when it arrived in our village, I had to learn how to actually use Zoom and Skype, but once I invented a password that was easy to remember (and inevitably I couldn’t remember it). Learn how to reinvent your password when you do). Become your best friend. The good news I’ve found from the last 18 months of Zoom is that you only have to look down to your waist so you can spend the day in comfortable slippers. And when the parcel arrives, online shopping turns into Christmas every day. I don’t remember the order, but at least for some time I find that it’s exactly what you wanted. And if you sometimes forget to unmute yourself, aren’t you guys?

It’s up to us oldies to take the first step. If you feel that technology has eliminated or confused you, you must swallow your pride and ask for help. We need to encourage our friends, families, charities and volunteers to guide and guide us into a brave new world. I think it’s a lot easier than we fear. If you can type, you can use your computer.

And it’s worth it. A Literature review Regarding the impact of the Internet on the elderly, “the positive effect of computer use on the psychological function and well-being of the elderly”, and the use of the Internet is “related to the reduction of loneliness and depression, and the improvement of society”. I found a lot of evidence that I’m doing it. Connection, self-esteem and cognitive function, self-efficacy improvement, self-control, self-determination, social interaction, education and skill development. “

Yes, there are new dangers, but there are risks in any adventure. The invention of the car reminds the reluctant oldies of what it means to learn to drive, remember highway codes, and fasten seat belts to ensure safety. The same applies to navigating the Internet. It’s a challenge at first, but it’s worth it.

Like a car, the internet allows us to explore the world and celebrate with our friends and loved ones. And if the computer beats us in the first place, it’s a great excuse to call our grandchildren for help.

  • Esther Rantzen is a journalist and broadcaster who founded a child protection charity. Childline Free Confidential Silverline Helpline for the Elderly (0800 4 70 80 90)

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