My parents are in their late 70s. They live in the city. Drive a car. Interact with their local community. Pay their bills on time. All the normal stuff.

Mum is quite good on email and Dad likes Google Earth. They check their computer most days and enjoy the fact that it makes them feel relevant.

Or does it?

Lately, I’ve been getting quite a few service calls from Mum (I’m her IT guy) asking that I pop down and give her a hand with some techie thing she’s having trouble with. The last request was regarding her Optus account. She really likes Optus but she’d received a notice saying she was going to be charged $2.20 for every print bill. She was determined to avoid this fee and asked me to help.

So, off I go. IT savvy me. Surely setting up her online billing would take a second, right? Nope. 50 minutes later I finally worked it out (she had 3 Optus services and I needed to link them all together which took a lot of time and effort as they were all categorised differently by the system).

She was delighted when the task was done but we were both left wondering how on earth she would have done this on her own. Even if she had have called Optus and been talked through the process, she really wouldn’t have had the skills to cope. As Dad said, they speak another language.

I’m a bit troubled by this. As more and more essential services go online and we are all asked to become self-servers, what happens to those who just can’t keep up? I suspect that they will be penalised as Mum would have been by her print bill charges. Or just totally left behind.

It’s important to remember that even young guns will be old one day.