Wireless computers: Formerly a luxury, now a basic

It's sometimes easy to forget how much technology has changed in the last 10 years. Personally, I grew up with a generation that had Internet access from the moment it was available to everyone, nearly 2/3 of my life. At the beginning, getting online was much different. Our family computer was a $3000, large and bulky, tan colored machine that had its own room in our house. It used a loud modem to connect to the only phone line we had, which meant no one could make a call while the Internet was in use.

Today, getting online is easier and more convenient than ever before. With the introduction of WIFI, which is the name commonly given to the concept of connecting to the Internet with a device wirelessly using radio waves, everything changed. Our computers (laptops) got smaller and more powerful, which promoted using these tools in a more mobile way. We were no longer forced to sit in our computer rooms anymore. We had the freedom to sit on the couch and check our email, or watch a cooking tutorial while preparing dinner in the kitchen. WIFI made it possible for the Internet to be available to everyone virtually anywhere. What a game changer!

Connecting to the Internet using WIFI is also the technology that makes new gadgets such as tablets, smart phones, and new laptops possible, as these devices do not have another means to get online. So, when you walk around your retirement home sharing photos of your grandchildren on Facebook with your neighbors, imagine trying to do the same with a long wire attached to the wall. It would actually seem ridiculous. Future technologies will undoubtedly all use WIFI to access the Internet. Wires will soon be a thing of the past.

Because WIFI is so common, it's important that everyone understands a few basic concepts about it, to use it confidently and safely. First, if you have your own WIFI connection at home, be sure to setup a WIFI password. This will ensure that only the people who know your password can get access to you WIFI connection. Second, when using public WIFI, like at Starbucks or your modernized retirement home, avoid making online purchases or doing online banking. With no WIFI password, anyone could view all the activity on the public WIFI connection, which includes your credit card number and bank information. Reserve this type of online activity for at home, when you're using a private, password protected WIFI connection.

Finally, it's important to know how to make your WIFI connection signal as strong as possible, so your Internet loads quickly. Be sure to have the WIFI router (electronic box with an antenna that transmits wireless radio waves) at a high elevation, wherever it's setup. Also, keep it away from other electronic devices. This will help create a wide open area for the WIFI Internet connection to be projected and will decrease the amount of electronic interference other technologies might create.

Have fun out there in our WIFI enabled world. Just imagine when entire cities offer free WIFI to everyone…wow! WIFI truly is a technology for seniors.