My husband's mother is 85 years old and has never used a computer. She has no desire to learn and can see no reason a computer would ever be useful to her.
A few years ago, Mom felt the same way about the microwave. After a lifetime of managing without one, why start now? No amount of persuasion worked, but after one visit, we left a small microwave in her kitchen. She tried it out a few times and realized what a useful tool it could be. The same method did not work with a computer. Much more learning was involved, so the machine sat gathering dust until we took it back home. Every visit we talked about how much we could do with our computers, but she remained unconvinced.
"You can keep your mind active, learning about many different things" we said.
"I watch educational TV" was her answer.
"You can get photos of your family, so we don't seem so far away. "
"I'd rather see all of you in person" was the response.
"Keep up with what's going on in the world. "
"I like to read the newspaper for that. "
"What about having an online chat with your children?"
"I prefer to hear their voices on the phone" said Mom.
After that, we rarely talked about Mom learning to use a computer. She spent her spare time gardening and we visited whenever we could.
Then one summer, we decided to stay over for a few days. We toured her city, went shopping together and ate out. In the evenings we talked, but eventually the conversation ran out and we didn't want to waste our visit watching TV.
Out came the scrabble board and we soon realized Mom was quick, competitive and loved the game. She would play all day if that was possible.
"Too bad more of the family can't be here" she remarked.
"You know" said my husband, “if you had a computer, we could have an online scrabble game with all of us, plus you could play against people from all over the world, whenever you wanted to. "
"Could I really?" Mom asked, finally showing some interest.
The sparkle in her eyes told us there was now a reason to join the computer generation. Who knows, maybe this winter she'll be paying bills online in her cozy kitchen instead of trudging through snow to the bank.
Carol Bremner (otherwise known as Granny Geek) is a computer loving member of the gray generation. Her websites promote computer literacy in the home for the over 50 crowd. Her goal is information without overload.