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If you want to try before buying a computer, check with your local public library. Chances are they have a few set up for public use and may even have basic classes you can attend. Just be careful about putting your personal information on public computers.
There are new ideas and new tools coming out daily in technology. However, there are only a few you need to keep up to date with your family.
email - an electronic form of correspondence that isn't too different from the pen and ink kind of mail. You just need to learn a new
approach. email can include pictures and directions to others thoughts and pictures as well as your thoughts.
Facebook - a place on the internet where you can hear from family and friends, share pictures, stories and other information. Kind of like having your own personal bulletin board that can only be seen by those you choose.
Photobucket - (or other photo storage site) a place on the internet to store precious photographs from your digital camera and the cameras of other family members and friends. A photo album that easily spreads out to allow you to add pictures from many sources.Also as private as you need it to be.
ecommerce - Buying and selling on eBay and other sites across the internet.Once you get the hang of it you will LOVE it. I promise. I cruised eBay for a year or so before buying and another year before starting to sell. Now, I'm hooked.
There are now several new sites dedicated to helping seniors get in touch with their inner geek, or at least learn to keep up with their family on-line. One was started by former Brady Bunch TV star, Florence Henderson. Named Floh Club, her North America-based site offers support from highly trained experts, friendly, patient people able to help you get the results you want from your computer. With your permission, they can even access your computer make necessary changes to resolve the issues as you watch. Plans start at $25.
I have often found the "... for Dummies" series of books helpful. They approach the subject with expertise while explaining it simply and with a good sense of humor. You might find help in the book "Computers for Seniors for Dummies" and "Using the Internet Safely for Seniors for Dummies" . Both are offered at Amazon.com .
Jump in there, don't miss another minute of fun.