Friday, September 15, 2000

George Mindling Column 9-15-2000


Seniors and the Internet


Charlotte County is unique in many ways, one being the relatively high number of retired and elderly citizens. Ready for a surprise? According to the consulting firm, Agelight, more than 23 percent of people ages 60 to 69 already own a computer! Another source states that more than 22 percent of adults over 50 are online.

Why? Because e-mail is a great way to communicate! It is faster than letters and cards, and a lot cheaper than the telephone. If you have local Internet access, and most users in Charlotte County now have toll-free access, the "calls" are free, the charge being the monthly service fee to access the Internet.

With both speed and cost advantage, hunt and peck typing at the keyboard becomes meaningless. Sometimes it takes a while to find all the right keys, but most e-mailers don't check each others messages for spelling or grammar. Chatting with old friends and family up north now becomes almost a daily ritual for some.

Many retirees do well from old skills at keyboards, while newcomers try to master the keyboard and mouse as well. In fact. several PC vendors are now including "one button" Internet access keys as special buttons, right on the keyboard. Of course, the initial expense for a PC has usually been a lot of money for most retirees.  However, the price of PCs has come down drastically in the last few years. Several Internet companies have bundled the now famous "$400 rebate" if you'll sign up with their Internet service for three years.

Even without the rebate, the average PC for Internet use is well within the budget of most people. And where do you learn to “drive” your new PC? There are many sources available in Charlotte County for the new PC and Internet user. There are computer classes taught at the Charlotte County Cultural Center, (941) 625-4175. Charlotte Vo-Tech, (941) 255-7500 or
www.ccps.k12.fl.us/TechCenter/TechCenter.htm and the Charlotte County Public Schools Community Education Program at the Port Charlotte Town Center, (941) 255-7430, that are excellent for newcomers and experienced users alike.

More surprises? How about Web sites for seniors? Try the Senior Net at: http://www.seniornet.com or http://www.thegeezerbrigade.com. both are excellent sites with different approaches to seniors on the Internet. There are many sites geared for the retiree and senior citizen' alike.
Another one is http://www.go60.com, Helping Seniors Improve With Age.

More than just e-mail, Internet users become more and more accustomed to what the Internet can do.
Charlotte County is on the Internet. with many government agencies on line with up-to-date, modem Web sites. There are people who check the online tax records daily, just to search for information on lots and properties: http://www.cctaxcol.com/record.asp is the address for tax record searches, if you, too, are interested.

George Mindling

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