'Now I'm on the internet every day... It has opened the door to new interests' ; ADVERTISEMENT FEATUREIt's your digital futureTalkTalk has promised... [Newcastle Evening Chronicle (England)]
(Newcastle Evening Chronicle (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) 'Now I'm on the internet every day... It has opened the door to new interests' ; ADVERTISEMENT FEATUREIt's your digital futureTalkTalk has promised to help get more people across the North East online - it wants everybody to have access, get connected and be able to use the internet, not only to shop and socialise but to help make everyday life that much easier. ROB REID explains.
YOUNGSTERS take to the internet with enviable ease.
But those of us of a more mature aspect can find the prospect daunting.
We look on with grudging admiration as their fingers flicker over the keyboard and think we could never match such confidence and skill.
But we'd be wrong.
A growing number of people who had never even switched a computer on are now happily surfing away in pursuit of personal or business interests, hooked on Facebook, searching for work, banking and shopping online and emailing friends and family.
The trend is partly down to the large number of courses available through local authorities or community groups and associations. They are set up for a number of reasons - often to increase employment prospects or to help people communicate more effectively in the age of broadband.
Such courses open the door to endless possibilities - limited only by our own imaginations.
Far-flung friends and family are no longer out of reach thanks to the capabilities of the web.
The ability to keep in touch no matter where you are decreases the sense of isolation felt by many.
And whether it is for personal pleasure or through business requirement, a global stockpile of information is just a click of the keys away.
Since more and more businesses rely on the web to promote employment opportunities - it makes good sense to get connected so you can see what is on offer out there.
Mark French, from Blyth in Northumberland is one of the beneficiaries of just such a course.
He said: "It just goes to show you are never too late to learn.
"I didn't even own a computer before I took the course. I knew nothing at all and was truly starting from scratch."
Mark joined a basic course arranged at his local community centre.
It covered a wide range of topics, helping students find their way around the computer and get started on reaching out into the web.
Emailing and online banking were popular subjects as were shopping online and searching for holiday bargains.
Mark said: "The courses were great because the tutor made sure we were all comfortable with our own rate of progress.
"We didn't get left behind and we only moved on when we were confident about the steps we had just taken.
"It was great not to feel we were being rushed and we learned a lot surprisingly quickly."
He added: "One of the reasons I took the course was that I felt left out in a way - pushed to one side by kids who seemed streets ahead.
"I'm thankful that I did. Now I'm on the internet every day.
"It has opened the door to new interests.
"It's not just about using email and online banking - you can wander about the web and just follow any links of interest.
"I can sit there for hours. It beats watching the TV."
Mark joked: "I'm born again and into it big style - and up there with the kids."
Chef Graham Vince is another convert to computers and broadband.
He said: "I was completely ignorant to begin with - didn't have a clue.
"But what I did feel was that everyone else I knew seemed to be using computers and I was the only one who didn't.
"I took the course partly because I didn't want to be left out."
Graham, who works onboard a ship, also wanted to learn how to become more efficient by using the computer.
It proved to be extremely handy when it came to scheduling menus and writing reports.
Graham, a keen amateur lensman, also found it useful in pursuing his hobby of digital photography, as it allows him to upload, store and edit images.
He's also a convert to emailing, internet banking - and, of course, ordering goodies from Amazon and other online retailers.
David Harburn is another late entry into the world of broadband.
He owned a computer but admits that he failed to get the best out of it.
When his computer went on the blink, a helpful local IT tutor repaired it for him and suggested he join one of the local courses to bring him up to speed.
David duly did and has never looked back. He said: "I had the computer but was really a novice. The course improved my skills no end.
"Using broadband is such a handy thing to have, whether it is emailing or banking. I also enjoy shopping around for holiday bargains or just googling for useless information."
David also uses his computer more extensively in running his business, generating invoices and other documents.
All three students now wonder how they got by without broadband - and would encourage anyone who is not yet part of the network to get connected for their own benefit.
TalkTalk is one of the leading TV, broadband, phone and mobile providers, offering the best value way to get online at home in the UK. As a founding partner of the charity Go ON UK, TalkTalk has promised to help get more people across the North East online - it wants everybody to have access, get connected and be able to use the internet, not only to shop and socialise but to help make everyday life that much easier. There are lots of great reasons to start exploring the internet, and TalkTalk offer three simple packages to suit everyone's needs. The simplest and Britain's best value is SimplyBroadband, which is totally unlimited broadband and no calls included so you don't have the hassle of the calls you don't make. At Pounds 2.50 a month plus line rental, of Pounds 15.40, it has never been easier to discover what the online world is all about. For information about free help to get online visit www.digitalskills.com. For more about TalkTalk, call 0800 049 1396.
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