The other day I was in a supermarket, helping out with the weekly shop and grabbing an hour or so away from my online world, when I spotted something I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised at, but did make me double-take.

Further down the tea and coffee aisle, a lady of more mature years was waving her hand at various items on the shelf. Each wave being met with a glance at her hand then a smile or a quizzical look. When I got closer I could see what she was up to. I don’t know for sure but I would estimate the lady was certainly into her late 60s if not beyond and held in her hand one of those Smartphones that they advertise with the slogan “if you’ve not got [one], you’ve not got [one]“. She was using a scanning tool and apparently price comparison software via the internet to see if the bargain the supermarket was suggesting was not to be missed, was actually that good. Proof that the internet and all the fancy gadgets it can now offer are useful to each and every one of us.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tell the tale because today, as Spring Online week comes to a close, it is officially Silver Surfers’ Day 2011. You see “the net is not just for the young” as technology writer Bill Thompson once wrote and today is a celebration and promotion of the use of digital technologies by older people.

Launched back in 2002, the campaign seems to get more publicity and more successful every year. The idea is to get more older people – the silver surfers –  online, using the internet but it is also a celebration of those that are already on top of it.

Last year the event saw an estimated 32,000 people take part in 1,600 events as part of Silver Surfers Day 2010. This year 2,000 events will have taken place during the week with many today, so if you are interested in getting your gran, your aunt, your mum, or male relatives online, have a look here using the Find an event search to see if there are any events near you.

With the take-up of touchscreen tablets in the past year – I actually know more people over the age of 40 with iPads than under the age of 40 – the access to the internet for the non-net-savvy older generation has rapidly improved. Those who 5 years ago may have struggled to send an SMS text via a mobile phone, are very likely to now be using a smartphone by choice, sending emails and even logging into social networks. We’ve reported the increase in older users on Facebook and the like before, but the ability to connect with family and friends far and wide is enticing more and more of the Silver Surfer generation online.

123-reg can also help you connect. With our shared webhosting packages and 123-apps whatever your level of IT competency you can set-up in minutes your own blog to keep people updated of what you are doing, or a photo gallery to share those holiday snaps or family memories. For those more adventurous products like InstantSite and SiteFusion can help turn anybody into a web designer, perhaps to create a site for your local group or sports club.

To get you started we have even arranged a 10% discount off of our .com domains purchased via 123-reg today. Enter voucher code: SURFER when prompted during the checkout process. But remember it is only valid today (20th May 2011).

The internet really is great at breaking down barriers, whether that be distance, financial or something else and certainly on the internet, age is no barrier. So do a good deed for the day: Help one of your older friends or relatives to get using the internet. Free access can be obtained in most libraries and town halls across the country and for just a few hundred pounds a netbook can get anybody online quickly an easily – you may even have an old disused machine lying around at home or work that could help somebody get online.

Have you helped encourage somebody to become a silver surfer? Are you a silver surfer yourself? We’d love to hear your stories.


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