Lucy Berry's internet journey

Age UK Internet Champion of the Year 2010, Lucy Berry,

81-year-old Lucy Berry, shares the highs and lows of her own personal journey to get online.

Why did you want to get online in the first place?

My son was was planning to emigrate to Australia, and he was keen for me to get online so we could keep in touch, so he said, ‘Come on Mum, let’s get you started with a computer.’

I live alone and I’ve got to find something to keep my interest up. My family don’t live near me, but they’re always in touch with me regularly, and being online helps with that. For instance, I can now keep in touch with my grandson who travels the world with his job.

Sounds like your family like to travel?

They’re an ambitious lot.

How did you first learn to use the internet?

I got my first computer in 2000, and about 4 years ago I got broadband - that’s when it really got interesting. My son emigrated to Australia last year but before he went, he got me fixed up on skype too.

Were you daunted by the prospect of learning about technology?

You bet. I took a lot of persuading from my son for me to start to learn. I’d say, ‘I’m too old. I’ll never to be able to learn that, it’s too complicated.’ I used to panic a bit.

But gradually I thought I’ll start and see if I can take it in, and my son was on the phone when I ran into problems. He’d say, ‘Click on this, click on that’, and take me through it all step-by-step.

Once I got going on it, things started to slot into place, and I started to really enjoy using the computer. Now, I can’t go a day without using it, checking my emails and facebook - I’ve got addicted to the computer!

What was scary about it in the beginning?

You are frightened to death at the beginning. You don’t really understand what these computers are doing, but once someone explains, it’s not so bad.

What used to frighten me when I first started was when suddenly things would come up on my screen and I didn’t know what they were. You worry that this could be someone trying to break into your computer, and you don’t know whether it’s safe to continue. So I’d make a phone call to my son and he’d help me.

What’s the best thing about being online?

The best thing about being online is that it’s keeping me alert and my mind occupied. And I think if I hadn’t got it, I’d sit in a chair and stair at the walls, because I’m not too mobile.

I download loads of video clips from my son in Australia and use a webcam so I don’t miss a thing with my new grandson. I saw him when he started talking and playing, and I can watch him having a bath, and blowing bubbles. So I hear him and see him all the time. I can’t give him a hug, but everything else is there.

I can’t go out now, so I play bingo online at home –  and I do win as well! Sometimes I play the computer at scrabble and solitaire, and different games like that.

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