For many senior citizens, the Internet seems overwhelming, and often, downright dangerous. In Germany, privacy concerns have combined with the elderly’s natural reticence to technology to keep many senior citizens offline.

In order to begin changing this perception, we partnered with the Federal Associations of Senior Citizens, which includes 100 organisations and 13 million members, and the “Deutschland sicher im Netz” (Germany Safe Online - our partner in the Good to Know campaign in Germany) to raise awareness among all age groups on online safety and security. At this month's SenNova congress and fair for senior citizens, we hosted a booth with our partners to help inform participants about how to stay safe and get the most out of the Internet.

Of the 20,000 visitors to the fair, we held 800 individual conversations in three days. Many senior citizens appreciated meeting “Google in person.” We handed out more than 4.000 pamphlets including tips and tricks for Search and Social Networks which we especially created with our partners for seniors.

We took away some important lessons. More than their digitally native grandchildren and great-grandchildren, seniors desire face-to-face discussions about the Internet. This includes the importance of printed materials, keeping the information we provide simple and jargon free and presented in a manner that is easy to read. After an intensive discussion with a very active 70 year old lady, who told us she uses only Google as her Internet, she finished the conversation with the words: "You made my day!" She was so thankful that we were there to explain to her basics on search and other tools, as her children don´t have or take the time to explain information she finds too complicated. Another lady told me that she came to the event just to see us, as she needs more information on how to use the Internet.

Our next step of the project is the launch of a competition to find “Germany`s most digital senior citizen” on June 1st. The award winning ceremony will be held on October 29th at the Google offices in Berlin.