DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been asked to conduct a workshop to help introduce a senior citizen group to the Internet, and I am having a difficult time putting the program together because 60 percent of the group has never sat in front of a computer before. I am aware that I will receive some pushback from the group because they will have to confront their fears regarding technology. How can I make logging on the Internet a fun experience for this particular group of people? -- Bridging the Gap, West Orange, New Jersey
DEAR BRIDGING THE GAP: Start by letting this group of people know something that they already know -- namely, that everything is hard when you don't know how to do it and easy once you figure it out. Promise them that once they learn a few simple steps, they will be able to walk into a whole new world that is exciting, fun and as close as the push of a button.
Compare the computer to a television set. It looks like nothing when it's turned off but comes to life in myriad ways once you turn it on and engage the remote. Continue to look for familiar examples that these seniors will understand as you walk them through how to use a computer. Gently work with them one-on-one to show them how to get online. Be patient. When they get it, they will be excited. It takes time and follow-up on your part so that if they forget how to do a step, you are there to remind them.