It’s hard to imagine a time when technology and computers didn’t dominate our lives – at home, in work and during our leisure time.
More and more of us are working online, shopping online, banking online and socialising online. Sometimes it seems the world would stop tomorrow if someone pulled the plug.
Though it might sometimes feel that there’s no escape from technology, using a smartphone and being computer literate does have lots of benefits. There’s no doubt the internet has transformed the way people communicate with each other. Nowadays, it’s just as easy to chat to your grandson in Australia as it is to your next door neighbour.
Making the connections
Many people meet up with like-minded friends online, using free social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Reddit (there are many more) or joining online forums. Most organisations now have a Facebook page where they share news and information.
Free internet access
You don’t need the internet at home to stay connected. Most libraries have computers which you can use free of charge (check if you need to book in advance) and the majority of businesses and transport providers provide free wifi to customers. There’s not usually a charge (though you may need to ask for a password).
If you’re completely new to computers, there’s plenty of help available to get you online and chatting. Community centres often run digital skills and IT courses for beginners. To find out what’s available, visit Careers Wales website.
Digital Communities Wales works with organisations across Wales to make sure nobody is left behind as more and more services go online. Volunteer digital companions help older people learn digital skills.
BBC Webwise has plenty of information to help you improve your digital skills, including written guides and short videos. There is also advice about online safety and keeping your personal information safe.
Learn my Way has free online courses to help people learn digital skills and stay connected (and safe).
Silver Surfers has some great articles for the over 50s about how to make the most of various social networking apps and stay safe online.
RNIB Cymru can help blind and partially sighted people to use computers and get onto the internet. Helpline: 0303 123 9999 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.