New book teaches parents well how to tame their Internet fears

Teaching tends to be transmitted from the top down, from parents to children. But in the high-tech world, it is often the techno-wizard children who have installed the computer, set up the modem, and mastered navigating the Web.

Twenty-five year old Andrew Gold wrote his new book "Walk with Me through the Internet" for his Jewish parents, who felt too intimidated to jump into the Internet ring.

Gold, of Redwood City, said he was motivated in part by the "Jewish subject of parents teaching children and children teaching parents."

While anxiety over accessing the Internet is not a particularly Jewish phenomenon, according to Gold there is a Jewish approach to help those who feel the Internet bears down on them like a runaway steamroller.

To promote his book, he will be taking an Internet walk with parents at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13 at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. Admission is free.

While the Internet is well-equipped as a family resource, "What good is all this technology if my parents can't see it?" asked Gold.

He hopes that approaching the technology in the relaxed manner of a "personal conversation of a son speaking to his parents" will disarm people's fear that Internet technology is leaving them behind in the information dark ages.

Gold recommends that adults slow down to catch up with the times. His book uses the metaphor of taking a stroll to ease newcomers on their initial Internet explorations. In the first chapter, "I ask my own Mom and Dad to come walk with me," Gold said.

By the time they finish the book, parents should be able to send e-mail, use a search engine and explore Web pages — and understand in simple terms how these processes work.

For those who have not taken their first steps, Gold suggests the best way to overcome Internet fear is to own up to it.

"People are afraid to admit they are afraid" of using the Internet, he said. "People are just expected to use this technology. That is what causes this fear. Bringing that issue to the foreground makes it more human."

Gold conducts "ice-breaker" events at libraries, bookstores and community centers, where he acts as a tour guide for first-time visitors.

The author has been involved in the techno-world since he moved to the Bay Area three years ago. He worked as a Web site designer before starting his own company, Sunshine Daydream in Palo Alto, an on-line source for outdoor adventures in the Bay Area.

He sat down to write the book because he felt there was a lack of user-friendly reading for newcomers to the Internet. "I couldn't find something which just explained the way the Internet works in down-to-earth terms," Gold said.

So Gold wrote the book — his first — keeping in mind that "it is a very Jewish concept to put importance not just on what you say, but the way that you say it."

He even supplies a brief glossary at the end of the book which acts as a jargon decoder.

His book is certified with a recommendation from his parents, who write that it "opened us to a vast world of accessing and storing information. We love `Walk with Me through the Internet,' the Internet, our computer, and you!"

Gold is planning his next book to focus on 50 success stories of average people who have used the Internet to enrich their lives.

Now something of an Internet crusader, Gold said that "anything that can bring humanity one step closer to a general understanding is to all of our benefit.

"That's the way Judaism asks people to be," he added. "We need to take one step back and think about ways of making the world better for other people."