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New Linux-Based PCs Encourage Seniors To Learn The Internet

November 12, 2009

A new computer called SimplicITy has been aimed at people over the age of 60 who have never before used PCs or the Internet, BBC News reported.

The simplified desktop has just six buttons directing users to basic tasks such as e-mail and chat and each machine is pre-loaded with 17 video tutorials from television presenter Valerie Singleton. The SimplicITy computer has no login screen when started up, and contains no drop-down menus.

The made-to-order computer can be ordered by mail and takes two weeks from request to delivery.

Singleton set up the project in partnership with Wessex Computers and Discount-age, her website aimed at older people.

A recent survey by the Office for National Statistics in August 2009 revealed that 6.4 million people over 65 have never used the Internet.

Singleton said the number of older people who do not have computers shocked her.

“I think people just don’t understand them,” she told BBC News. “I’ve been using a computer for quite some time and I don’t understand everything.”

Singleton added that every time she learns a new thing to do on her own computer she has to write it down in order to remember it.

The SimplicITy machines open to a front page called “square one” containing separate clickable buttons for e-mail, browsing the web, files (for storing word documents and photos etc), online chat and a user profile.

The machine’s e-mail system is a modified version of an Italian design called Eldy. All SimplicITy users with an eldy.org address will be able to chat to each other via the “chat” button.

Each machine is built on the Linux operating system, a free operating system that can be customized by users.

Experienced users can replace the SimplicITy desktop with a standard Linux desktop if they decide they are ready to move on.

“Efforts to get older people online should be applauded,” said Andrew Harrop, head of public policy for charity Age Concern and Help the Aged.

He added that pensioners who aren’t online are missing out on hundreds of dollars in potential savings by shopping around.

“They also often miss out on the best interest rates for savings accounts, not to mention the social benefits of being online,” Harrop said.

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