Steve*, recently retired, was born, raised and worked his entire life in a provincial town in the North Island of New Zealand.
He left school, found work locally and enjoyed a relatively quiet life, living with his mother who took care of household business, and with no digital technology engagement whatsoever. His mates tried to get him interested in a smartphone and internet connection, but the reply was, "No, not likely mate!"
Recently, Steve’s mother passed away. He then had to deal not only with his mother’s death, but also take over the financial management of the household.
First things first. Power. He called the power company, only to find that he’d have to open a new account, in his own name. And to open an account he needed an email address.
Up to this point, Steve* had shunned the Internet and digital devices. He didn’t see the need. He had newspapers, friends, TV, phone. But now, reluctantly, he called SeniorNet for help. He only wanted an email address, nothing more. Except of course he would need a smartphone, or other device, and a connection. Oh dear.
Appropriate device and internet connection sorted, Steve* enrolled in an introductory smartphone course. Then another. And another. He was on a roll!
"What’s this app?"
"What happens if I do this?"
"I’m not doing online banking!"
"I need to pay an account online"
"Can I use my data for movies?"
"Can I stream to my TV?"
"I’m not going on Facebook."
"Hey, look at all this stuff on Facebook!"
"I can use maps. Find sports info! Look at this photo!"
Access to digital technology has not just helped Steve. It has not just changed his life. It has given him a whole new life, and boy, is he excited about that!
Steve's story is by no means an isolated case. Our senior citizens now have a huge range of digital tools to make their lives healthier, easier, happier, and longer. But they need both access and skills to conduct their necessary, daily business in this world.
We have an obligation as a community and a country, to provide it.
*Steve is a pseudonym
Story shared with us by Terry Dowdeswell, Chair of SeniorNet Wanganui