Jan 182011
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by David Pogue – NY Times

A few days before my 100-year-old mother’s death this summer, she said she had only one regret: not being able to see her family in California again.

But then I realized that I had my MacBook (with its built-in webcam) in my briefcase. A few phone calls later and my mother was using iChat to speak with and see her great-grandchildren for the first time in years.

My mother, born in a Belarussian village before the advent of commercial radio, was by her late 90s using a cellphone, receiving e-mail messages from her family and asking me “what is this Twitter thing anyway?”

She was far from the only centenarian using technology for more than just medical monitoring and protection against falls. Contrary to stereotypes, computers, social networks, e-mail and even video games are becoming essential parts of older peoples’ lives.

Some of the highest growth rates in broadband use are happening among the elderly. The Pew Research Center found that broadband use for those 65 and older increased from 19 percent in May 2008 to 30 percent in April 2009. Since 2005, broadband use has tripled in that group.

Although challenges remain for many older people, any number of products can help them become more involved in the digital age. Here’s a look at some of the most popular ones.

IT ALL STARTS WITH THE PC While many digital devices like cameras or cellphones don’t require a PC, their use can be enhanced with a computer by helping users transmit photos or easily update a mobile phone address book.

Read more . . .

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