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UPDATED: 19:10, May 24, 2004
Shanghai's elderly enjoy fun in cyber space
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Lu Benhong, a retiree of the Shanghai textile construction company, was quickly clicking on a mouse while looking closely at the computer to destroy his "enemies". After the third round of an online game competition for the aged, he entered the top three.

Lu, 71, became interested in the cyber world two years ago, when he began to attend a computer training course for the elderlyby a popular website called Now, surfing online, playing online games, sending e-mails and making some flashes have become a common part of the old man's life.

Although they are silver-haired or may have difficulty in walking, more and more elderly in the city like Lu are becoming activists in the virtual space.

Statistics show that 200,000 out of 2.54 million aged Shanghaiese have started to visit web sites since the launch of the project of "help the elderly

surf online" by Shanghai's municipal committee on aging, scientific and technological association and foundation for the aged in last October.

The 73-year-old Cen Changyuan was one of them. Besides recording with his digital camera things around him, the old man has learnt to edit photos online.

His representative work "morning exercise" had been on exhibition in the third Shanghai popular science week of digital life for the aged from May 15 to 21.

"I feel fun in my online experience and I feel my life is enriched," said another online surfer, the 95-year-old Du Peiji, the oldest man online in the


"The aged need more than others talk and communication," said Zhang Zhian, general manager of the "Oldkids" website. "The online life opens a window for

the aged to blend into the society and enrich their old age."

Apart from training courses on online surfing or making web pages and online gaming contests outlined in the project, social forces like the "Old

kids" website, he said, have offered services for the elderly such as consultation, purchasing computers and providing door-to-door maintenance for

the old people.

In Shanghai's Changning district, one million yuan (120,000 US dollars) has been invested in building community computer classrooms for the elderly. 2,000

old people have received training to be computer classroom managers and computer course volunteers, who will teach more of the same age how to enjoy the cyber


Source: Xinhua

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