“How do I send a What’s App message?” “Am I safe online in the digital age?” “Why are we being asked to agree to cookies all the time?”
Southampton Central Library is a beautiful old building in the middle of the city. I recently went to help The Post Office with one of their new digital events, set around the country in various destinations as I discussed on the blog recently.
The morning was not only useful to myself (so many good tips from the Google Digital team but also very fulfilling helping others who were so incredibly grateful for our help.
The people who arrived at the drop-in sessions throughout the morning had various questions prepared before they came. Some arrived with their phones, kindles, laptops and tablets; wanting help with all of their gadgets and help away is exactly what we did.
What became apparent to me was the running theme of fear online amongst the older generation. They were all worried about GDPR, did not really understand what it was all about and were very fearful about their data being stolen.
To be honest, I don’t blame them. GDPR was shambolic, no-one (including most of the businesses) knew what they were supposed to be doing to get it right. My advice to the people at the drop-in was to sign up for a newsletter if they love the company and want to get their offers, otherwise not to bother and keep checking their websites for sales and offers.
We use our devices to stay in touch with people, to read the news, to check the weather and to book our travel. Can you imagine how difficult all of that would be without a computer, a phone or a tv?
One person arrived simply wanting to be shown how to book a bus ticket online, there was no way of doing it other than on the internet and he was stuck.
Without a tv, computer, and phone he couldn’t buy his ticket in the comfort of his own home. Sure, he could come to use the library computer for free if he wanted to but he had no email address. Simple things, to some of us, so normal we cannot imagine life without them.
He was so delighted to be set up with an email address and found out how to book his next bus ticket that he spent the next few hours using one of the many iPads with had in the room, simply browsing the internet to see what was there.
This may sound extreme but at the grand old age of 41 (I feel about 21 mentally) I have only been using the internet for half of my life. The first twenty years we had one house phone for a family of six (can you imagine the queues), the internet came along during my final year at university. I spent twenty years using paper timetables to find out when the next train was. We used Ceefax to look for last-minute holidays (this makes me sound very old now) and maps to navigate car journeys.
The Post Office has recognised the need to help people with a whole manner of digital queries and the fantastic news is that they plan on adding more dates across the country in the Autumn (keep your eyes peeled).