Google and Age Action Ireland scout for 2013 Silver Surfers

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Pat Rabbitte, TD, Ireland's Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with silver surfers Marie O'Gorman (79) from Walkinstown, Co Dublin, and Helen Powell (74) from Knocklyon, Co Dublin. Image via Jason Clarke Photography

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Do you know of any tech-savvy silver surfers out there who have been embracing digital life lately? Age Action Ireland and Google Ireland are today calling for people around the island to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative who is over 50 for the 2013 Silver Surfer Awards.

Search-engine giant Google, which has its EMEA headquarters in Dublin, organises the awards each year with Age Action Ireland in order to reward people over 50 in Ireland who have been migrating to the digital world and using technologies such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, iPods, and the like.

Last year’s overall winner was Pauline O’Connor. Wishing to bond with her grandchildren digitally, as well as her friends and family dotted around the planet, O’Connor took it upon herself to learn to play computer games and to social network.

Pictured with Irish broadcaster George Hook is silver surfer Dorothy Harrington (78), from Sandymount, Co Dublin

Irish broadcaster George Hook and silver surfer Dorothy Harrington (78), from Sandymount, Co Dublin

This year, the Silver Surfer Awards have five categories:

Google Silver Surfer Award
Seeking older people who dabble with the internet with a sense of humour and adventure.

New to IT Award
This award will go to a person who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become part of the IT crowd.

Hobbies on the Net Award
An older person who surfs the net internet to hunt down information about their passion or hobby or who likes to social network on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

IT Tutor(s) of the Year Award
An individual, or group of any age, who provides voluntary support to older people who are going digital.

And the Golden IT Award will go to …
An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to help him or her daily, enhancing his or her lifestyle.

Gamer Pauline O'Connor, pictured with her daughter, Aine, having won the overall award in the 2012 Silver Surfer contest. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

Gamer Pauline O’Connor, pictured with her daughter, Aine, having won the overall award in the 2012 Silver Surfer contest. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

Empowering people to embrace IT and digital life

Sinead Gibney, head of Social Action at Google, said everyone deserves their achievements to be recognised when embracing digital life, especially older people who have taken what can often be an "intimidating" step of getting online.

"At Google we believe the internet is for everyone, not just the young.  Last year, we had more nominations than ever before and we hope to continue this trend in 2013."

The Age Action charity in Ireland is also doing its bit to help other people enjoy the digital era.

Via its volunteers who give their time freely, Age Action runs a Getting Started programme which teaches older people basic and improvers internet and IT skills. These digital skills classes are run in Age Action offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway and also through partnership with Dublin City Council in sheltered housing in the city. They are always seeking volunteers.

The nomination process

Gibney encourages people to nominate someone who they feel deserves to have his or her IT and digital achievements recognised in the 2013 awards.

The deadline for people to nominate silver surfers for the 2013 awards is 15 September. Each of the winners will receive a Chromebook.

People can nominate a silver surfer they know online or by phoning Anne Marie at (01) 475 6989.

The winners of the Silver Surfer Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Google’s EMEA headquarters on 2 October in the presence of Googlers, Age Action and other silver surfers.

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Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com