When technology becomes a grey area



You have one new friend request. It’s your mum. Your first instinct is to accept, it’ll drive you closer to the magic 350 Facebook friends mark. Yet something stops you from opening up your online world.

Sure, there might be a novelty value to adding family members on Facebook and it will mean you’ll never forget your dad’s birthday, but do you really want your folks seeing your whole profile?

All it takes is a few awkward comments on drunken nights out, ‘liking’ the break-up of you and the girlfriend that never won parental approval and general nosiness for your patience to be severely tested…

So has anyone managed to find the right balance when your parents, aunt or granny wants in on your online world?

I considered putting my mum on a limited profile list, but then decided I couldn’t take any chances. The moment she told me she had joined Facebook, I jumped on my laptop and added her email address to my blocked list.

Keeping in touch is lovely, of course, but there is nowhere to hide these days. Before you could miss a call on the home phone because you were ‘out’, but with mobile phones, email and Skype there is nowhere to hide.

And what’s the most embarrassing moment of all? It’s obvious. Getting beaten on FIFA 11 by your old man. “I taught you everything you know about football and now I’m teaching you again…”

But I suppose there are good things about older people using technology.

silversurfer.jpg
Age is no barrier when it comes to using technology

You can’t help but be impressed by Lillian Lowe. Three years after clocking up her century, she is widely thought to be Facebook’s oldest user.

As if being the oldest social networker in town wasn’t enough, Lillian likes, comments and posts on her 10-year-old great-granddaughter’s wall using her iPad.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear she shuns jigsaws and dominoes night down at the local social club to whizz round the track on Gran Turismo 5 on her PS3.

If your mum has been missing you since you left home then Facebook will help her see that her little soldier hasn’t been wasting away without her special pasta bake. Amazing what you can whip up in a microwave...

Parents can also don a headset and use Skype to keep in touch with kids in exotic locations. No more hurried hellos on punishing overseas tariffs. The internet has made it so much easier for parents to keep in touch with their children.

And if your dad is anything like mine and loves watching war films and documentaries, why shouldn’t he get even closer to the front line and earn his stripes on Call of Duty: Black Ops?

Many older people have mastered more of technology than the younger generations give them credit for. Surfing the internet, email and digital cameras are an everyday part of their lives.

Technology isn’t exclusive. You don’t have to be at the cutting edge to benefit from it. Maybe it’s time to embrace the silver surfer generation.

Are you an older techno wizard or have you helped your mum follow Philip Schofield on Twitter? Comment below…