Bringing Computer-Phobic Residents Online Entering the Information Age

In an era when everyone seems to be working, paying bills and shopping via their computers, it's hard to believe that there are plenty of us who still don't know the Internet from a fishing net. That's the reality of the technology divide, however —many are plugged into the Information Age, but many are not. There may be unit owners or shareholders in your own building or association who either don't own a computer, or who do own one but are just too fearful of turning the thing on, much less venturing out into cyberspace. While some non-computerized people may be so for economic reasons or out of simple preference, many simply don't know what they're missing.

A significant portion of this last group is made up of senior citizens. It doesn't have to be this way, however— helping seniors get on board with online technology can be beneficial to both the residents themselves, as well as to your board and property management team. More and more management companies are sending important notices to HOA residents via e-mail, and associations are posting all kinds of information on community websites. E-mail has also supplanted phone calling and letter-writing as the quickest way to alert management or association staff of a maintenance problem or question. The more residents who are able to access those postings and e-mails, the better for everyone involved.

Seniors and the Net

"There are people who still haven't gotten into computers," says Richard Byrne, first vice president of the Computer Club of New Jersey (www.ccnj.org). "Some senior citizens have been reluctant to get into computers; many of them live in condos, co-ops and assistant living communities."

Byrne says that some communities have computers accessible to residents, and most even offer easy high-speed Internet access, but many seniors remain reluctant to join the computer generation.

"I think some seniors aren't purchasing computers simply due to cost," says Elesa Livingston, program coordinator for SeniorNet, a California-based group devoted to helping seniors gain access to online technology. "Of course, many seniors are on a fixed income, and they also may not know how much the pricing for computers has dropped in recent years. Also, without training, a computer is of very little use to anyone, so I'm sure that also plays a part."

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