As she surveyed the crowd at the recently, Abby Stokes was readied her questions.
"How many people here have ever used e-mail?"
A smattering of hands went up.
A smaller number of people raised their hands.
"How many of you have used the Internet for other purposes besides those things?"
Only a few hands remained aloft.
Stokes, the Niantic-based author of Is This Thing On? A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming, used the information she gathered Tuesday evening to give a tutorial to senior-aged residents on how to help introduce the “digital immigrants” to the World Wide Web as part of the library’s final installment of the adult summer reading program.
Stokes's compared those who didn't grow up in the current, technology-saturated age with so-called "digital natives,” or those from Generation Y and after, who came of age in the computer-dominated era.
Stokes said that one way people can overcome their intimidation from computers is to "stop trying to compete with digital natives."
Millennials, she said, learn technology as their native tongue, so those who acquire it as a second language will never be able to keep up with them.
Yet, Stokes insisted that computers offer many potential joys for those who are only now becoming acquainted with them. To whet the audience’s appetite for further information, she shared details about email, social networking, Skype, e-shopping, watching video online, and simple Internet-based games.
Stokes also presented practical advice on topics such as computer buying criteria, password protection, and what she calls "netiquette,” the proper norms and standards of online communication and behavior. To those concerned about Internet security, Stokes said that “ if we all learned better netiquette, spammers and scammers would have a much harder time."
The author provided the audience with a "Grandparents' Cheat Sheet for Staying in the Game" as a parting gift to provide computer newbies with tips on how to safely and best use the Internet, including chronicling family histories and ways to make online communication more personal.