A computer for lonely old people?

On the radio this morning, I heard that there are a couple of hundred thousand lonely old people in the UK who would be less lonely of only they could use email and get on the web. And that services are increasingly going to be web-based.

I am not thinking about the computer-savvy old, but the old who will struggle to work a conventional PC.

What sort of computer?

One that:

Is cheap
Is virus proof
Has buttons that can be set for a single purpose by a trusted third party – ‘Videophone Sally’ or ‘Look at Meals on Wheels menu’.
Has a simple browser, simple email, simple videophone
Has only one way simple to do any particular thing.

Should it be tablet-like, or a separate screen and electronics box?
I am slightly coming down on the side of a little Raspberry Pi-sized box as, if it is to be in-vulnerable to cyber attack, it could it be carried to the Post Office (or some other trusted third party) to be updated.

Or could it have slots in which the owner could stick in an ’email’ SD Card and a ‘browser’ card to make it do the things they want it to, and new versions of these cards could be available from the trusted third party if required?

And also a ‘pay the gas bill’ card, and a separate ‘pay the electricity bill’ card.

Maybe it could be impossible to make any form of payment without a trusted card or some such to protect the vulnerable form phishing attacks and other exploitation.

Maybe inter-oldie email could be carried over a via a virtual private network overseen by the Government’s GCHQ spying centre?  

And different simple computers, or different capabilities in similar boxes, for people of different abilities.

I don’t really know what the right answer is, but there must be some way to build robust safe links between old friends, and grandmas and grandkids.


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  1. Hi Tony
    Wouldn’t you be tempted even If you were stuck in the house with no family to visit you?

  2. I have family that dont have a computer, email address of mobile and they function perfectly well without it, as I did before the computer hit my desk, there more to life and the internet.

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