Does your mother really want to get onto the internet? I ask because my husband has no interest in actually getting onto the internet as much as he likes my ability to do so. I have tried to show him how to use email and some other basic stuff and it is a lost cause.
So assuming that your Mom really wants to give this a go, I would recommend a simple laptop with space between the individual keys on the keyboard. Take your Mom shopping and let her tinker with the keyboards. Let her play with the tablets and the touchscreens and see what she is comfortable using. Remember that a laptop offers more memory, a bigger hard drive, a faster processor, and a larger screen which can be vital to those of us who have older eyes and need larger type. I own both a laptop and an iPad and if I had to choose between them I would keep the laptop and dump the iPad. To me tablets are very sophisticated toys while laptops are for more serious computing needs.
As far as Apple or Mac versus Windows based equipment, what do you use? It may be best, if it is possible, for both of you to use the same operating system, internet provider, email application, etc. It will be easier to teach her and to answer questions if you are familiar with what your Mom is using. A simple reference book to go with the equipment can be a real lifesaver when it comes to answering basic questions when learning to use a computer.
Finally, make sure your Mom's computer is protected using a good anti virus program and that her email program has good spam filters. Warn her about email problems such as phishing and the numerous scammers who will try to part her from her personal information and her money.
I was over 50 (I am now 64) when I got my first computer and once I got going I never looked back. Now, I cannot imagine my life without the internet and all it has to offer. Tell your Mom that she can do this and that it can open up a whole new world for her.
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