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Families Staying in Touch as Seniors Go Online

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RALEIGH — The Internet makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with relatives. But often there is one missing link: senior members of the family with computer-phobia. Staying in Touch on the WebDonna Richardson loves staying in touch with relatives. The Internet makes it easy, and nothing beats her new family Web site.

The Web site has proven to be the best way to stay in touch with her parents and her seven siblings who live across the globe.

"There's a communication gap, and we just didn't like that at all," she says. "We just wanted to be more in touch with one another. And this helps us get there."

The Web page really did not take off until her parents got online and on board.

"As much as we like to call and talk to one another, they want to know instantly what's happening in our lives. So getting them involved is the key," Richardson says. More Seniors are Going OnlineGetting senior citizens online is not as tough as you might think. Jim Klibbe, 81, enjoys the Internet, e-mailing his friends and relatives all the time.

"I cannot drive any longer," Klibbe says. "I can't get out, except when somebody comes and takes me out, so the Internet has been my lifesaver."

The retired textiles professor says getting started was easy.

"Anybody that can read can operate a computer," he says. "I learned it by doing it. I didn't take any classes or anything like that."

Computer classes for seniors are available for those who want some guidance. A non-profit organization calledSeniorNethas 200 low-cost centers across the country, including one in Raleigh.

The Internet can be an amazing new web of communication between the branches of the family tree. Donna Richardson can vouch for that.

"As [the family] is growing -- from just my brothers and sisters, now to my nieces and nephews and then my mom and dad -- yes, we're covering quite a few generations," she says. Starting Your Own Web Site is EasyCreating your own Web page is a lot easier and cheaper than you might think. One popular Web site to help get you started with a free Web site isGeocities.com.

Beginners can use one of Geocities' "PageWizards" to build an instant Web page. For advanced users who know HTML, Geocities allows you to upload your files to your own personal Web site.

You should also check with your Internet service provider to see if they offer free Web site space.


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