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Google awards grandmother who bonds with her grandchildren over computer games

Pauline O’Connor The Age Action Ireland Google Silver Surfer of the year
Pauline O’Connor The Age Action Ireland Google Silver Surfer of the year
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Pauline O’Connor is 70 years old; she has 10 grand children and regularly beats them at their favourite video games.  And as of today she is also the winner of the Google-sponsored Age Action Silver Surfer Award.

With help from her grandchildren she has developed her gaming skills on Sony’s Playstation, and Nintendo’s Wii and DS consoles.   Pauline is also an avid user of Facebook and the web, also with the help of her grandchildren.

Her daughter, Aine, said that this intergenerational learning has helped bring Paunline and her grandchildren even closer; “Every Sunday when we go for breakfast to her house, time is dedicated to figuring out the new challenge or sharing hints and tips with her grandchildren. It warms my heart to see my mother connecting with my children through technology.”

Pauline O’Connor The Age Action Ireland Google Silver Surfer of the year
Pauline O’Connor The Age Action Ireland Google Silver Surfer of the year

At an award ceremony in Google’s Dublin Headquarters Pauline was presented with a Google Chromebook.

The Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action is an awards program designed to encourage older people to use modern communication technologies.  In total there are five awards as part of the program;

  1. Google Silver Surfer 2012 Award with Age Action
  2. Most Dedicated IT Learner Award
  3. Hobbies on the Net Award
  4. IT Tutor(s) of the Year
  5. Golden IT Award

Most Dedicated IT Learner Award

The Most Dedicated IT Learner Award was presented to Dermot Perry, 63, who lives Our Lady’s Hospice.  Dermot suffers from Motor Neuron disease and lost the use of his arms.  Dermot operates his computer using a roller ball and switches using his feet.  He was presented with the award for his commitment to using communications technologies like Skype

Winner of the Hobbies on the Net Award

John Kavanagh, 67, only took up computers in the past three years but driven by his passion for Blues music he quickly found friends online.  Using Facebook his online Blues club page has over 1,800 fans.  His son, Simon, said, “John has taken his colossal love, knowledge and music collection to the internet. Combining the blues with the latest in online tech, video and social behaviour to attract people from all over the world”

Winner of the IT Tutor Award

John O’Keeffe, 76, took to Skype three years ago to stay in contact with friends and family abroad.  But John has since shared his knowledge and helped other older people in his area to use the technology to communicate with their loved ones.  His daughter Noreen described the how popular his classes have been;

“Pensioners aged up to 95 flocked to his classes. It has been an outstanding success and it is heart-warming to see ladies in their 90s, who previously would have been terrified to even turn on a computer, to be able to bring their family close to them, irrespective of the fact that they are thousands of miles apart. He has brought the joy of technology to the aged.”

Winner of the Golden IT Award

Catherine Talty’s , 96, involvement with technology began when a history group contacted her to see if they could record her account of local history.  Intrigued, Catherine then learned how use digital recorders herself.  So far she has created a library of 83 files recounting local history since the 1850s up to the 1970s.

Google’s Head of Social Action, Sinéad Gibney, “It is wonderful to see so many older people getting to grips with technology. At Google we have been helping people use the internet for several years through our Age Engage Programme and I have seen the difference that it can make first hand. While it can often be a daunting experience I hope all of today’s winners can act as an inspiration to others.”

Age Action Ireland’s Chief Executive, Robin Webster, said the winners will provide a strong example to people of all ages, “The examples we have seen today highlight the huge potential which new technology has to transform and enrich the quality of life for older people.”

But let’s let the last word come from Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet;
Being offline in this environment, in this world today, is to deny yourself so much opportunity

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).