Ever since I was in high school, the Internet has been an instrumental part of my life. Whether I was exchanging instant messages with friends, playing games, or doing research for schoolwork, I was spending a significant amount of time online every day. It was fun, and it felt natural.
I went to university for software engineering, where my passion for all things technology grew. In second year, I started playing online poker -- and making quite a bit of money while doing so -- which further increased the amount of time that I spent on the Internet. Shortly after, I found myself playing professional poker, mostly online, for around 50 hours a week. Add to that another 10 to 20 hours each week doing non-poker activities online, and I was spending most of my waking hours online. And it still felt perfectly normal.
After I left the professional poker scene, my friends and I started a software company that built a social network for poker players called Pokerspace.com. It was an amazing experience that, once again, meant spending most of my time on a computer, connected to the Internet.
My parents generally supported my passion for computers and technology, even in the early years of my life. They bought our first family computer when I was 12, and purchased upgraded models every few years. For their own part, they found technology fascinating, but never really felt it was for them.
Immediately, I became the authority on that technology for my older relatives, teaching them how to use websites like Facebook, Skype and Netflix.
Eventually, technology made great leaps forward in not only functionality, but also ease of use. New "smart" phones appeared that could do much more than just make phone calls, as did websites for things like online banking and file sharing. At that point, my parents decided that it was time to embrace the technology of the 21st century. Immediately, I became the authority on that technology for my older relatives, teaching them how to use websites like Facebook, Skype and Netflix.
Typically, I’d sit down with them in a one-on-one setting and show them how to use the most important features of each website and application. They would usually pick things up pretty quickly, but unfortunately, they also often wouldn't be able to replicate what I had taught them a few weeks later. Mostly, this was because their notes were missing important steps or details, or the website had changed its interface. The other major problem was that I was busy running my company, and so I didn’t always have time to teach them.
The entrepreneur in me figured that there must be a website out there that could solve these problems. I mean, there are tutorials for all sorts of different practical skills out there on the Internet nowadays, right? So why couldn't there be a website with tutorials that could teach older adults how to use websites, all written in a language that they could understand? Well, I quickly realized that such a website didn't exist. Almost all of the relevant content available online was out-of-date, missing steps, confusing, or all of the above. It also wasn’t organized into the type of structured learning environment that I felt my parents needed, where they could progress through a series of tutorials from basic skills to more advanced features.
Unable to find a website that could solve my dilemma, the idea for Techboomers was born.
Techboomers.com is a free educational website that teaches those with limited computer skills how to use the most popular and trusted websites on the Internet. Techboomers. provides video and article tutorials that are tailored for the inexperienced technology user: written in a language that they understand, made relevant by way of comparisons to real-world scenarios, and explaining how what they're learning about can help make their life better or easier. Currently, Techboomers offers two main services.
First, its easy-to-navigate menu acts as a discovery tool, so that users can browse different categories of websites to find new ones they might want to try. For example, the Social category contains websites that help people communicate and connect, while the Entertainment category features websites that let people enjoy and find information on movies, television, music, and other facets of popular culture. We even have a category dedicated to websites tailored specifically for older adults.
Secondly, Techboomers provides free video and article tutorials for these websites in a language that our target audience can understand. These tutorials teach the benefits of using the product as well as how to use it. A few of the most popular websites that we have lessons for are Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, Groupon, and Wikipedia.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.