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Golden Surfers
The age gap blurs
Keeping up with the youngsters
Feeling like a youngster
Recruiting golden surfers
 Web Resources

The PJCC, a research project for the older persons in Malaysia
From Homepage of PJCC 
International Year Of Older Persons 1999
From The United Nations Website  
UN Ageing Website
From the United Nations website  

The need to recruit more golden surfers

Despite the value older Netizens may bring to Net, the local industry has yet to offer discounted PCs or access to older citizens, or to replicate SeniorNet-type programs here.

Prof Dr Tan Poo Chang thinks it may due to the lingering belief that they are not a significant part of the online population.

"The Net is the only place which has no race, age and sex bias for social interaction and communication. If older persons are given opportunities to access technology and Internet, they will be able to remain within mainstream society," says Dr Tan, who advocates computer-literacy regardless of age.

"On average, a person aged 50 years has at least another 20 or 30 years to go before passing on. Why should a third of our lives not be enriched by getting on the Net?"

In 1996, Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Tan pioneered the Petaling Jaya Community Center, near Kuala Lumpur, a research project for older persons, and is planning a computer-literacy class for members.

More people will live to a ripe old age as mortality rates continue to decline. It is significant that the United Nations has designated 1999 the International Year Of Older Persons. By next year, about 1.4 million citizens or 6.5 percent of Malaysia's 22 million population will be aged 60 or over. By 2020 that percentage will rise to 10.8 percent or 3.2 million people.

By 2020, the UN estimates over half of the one billion people aged 60 and above in the world will be Asian. Technology may play a crucial role in integrating the older person into society.

"Technology will have a tremendous impact on the lives of older persons. Given the opportunity, they will be able to enjoy the knowledge and social network only possible from Internet," says Dr Tan.

As fewer people qualify for pension funds or have enough savings or insurance to maintain a decent standard of living in the future, the Net may be the lifeline that replaces formal social safety nets. Better then to make hay, in readiness, than get gray while the sun shines.


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