When computers first became popular, many people thought that it was a fad. Today, it is difficult to avoid the use of computers or smartphones in your day-to-day life. It is easy to view the technological world as a science that is impossible to understand, but taking the time to learn how to use it will help make your life much easier. You may even start to view technology as a tool that helps you keep in touch with loved ones or easily organize your life.
Technology and seniors: the digital divide
While it’s true–to a certain extent–that today’s modern technology tends to confuse many older adults, that doesn’t mean that the older generations can’t learn. Let’s not forget that most older folks today were born way before the first mobile phone was invented, and yet a vast majority are using smartphones today. The same goes for computers, laptops, tablets, and practically every other piece of modern tech.
Nevertheless, technology can still be a bit confusing–and sometimes even daunting–for older adults, mainly because technology developed at a breakneck speed that they had a hard time catching up, unlike the younger generations who grew up on cellphones and family computers.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with some of the best tips on learning technology–particularly for the purpose of staying connected:
Top tips to learn technology and stay connected
- Ask For Help
There is no better way to learn technology than to ask someone else who is more adept at using it. For many seniors, their kids and grandkids make the best teachers. But if you don’t have loved ones close by to guide you through your smartphone apps, ask someone else for their time. Perhaps the neighbor, a fellow senior, or maybe even the stranger sitting next to you on the train will be kind enough.
- Watch Videos
There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can teach you how to use tools and apps like Zoom, Facebook, and FaceTime. The interface of these applications can be so intricate that these videos are used by people of all ages. Once you learn how to use the search function on YouTube, the world is your oyster.
- Don’t Be Afraid
Many people report that the main reason behind their reluctance to learn technology is the fear of doing something wrong. Also, there is the frustration that comes with not getting something to work the first time–or for the next dozen tries. If this sounds like your predicament, always remember that learning how to use a new technology takes time. Take these tech-savvy seniors as an inspiration; they’ve taught themselves how to use Zoom and FaceTime to stay connected with their families during COVID-19, even when those apps used to be foreign to them.
- Look for Senior Programs in Your Community
Some senior community programs aim to teach older adults how to use smartphones, online banking apps, communication tools, and other types of tech. Ask your local community center if they offer such programs and–if they do–take full advantage.
- Start Slow
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the new technology available nowadays. Even your smartphone’s capabilities may seem like magic if you grew up using telephones and a phonebook. The key is to start slow, learn bit by bit, and don’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t wrap your head around something the first time.
The Benefits of Learning Technology for Seniors
Online communication tools make it easy for seniors to connect with their loved ones, especially during the pandemic where meeting in person is not the safest option. As we’ve mentioned before, social isolation is one of the leading causes of clinical depression in older adults–and having the technology to help you stay connected with people can help you avoid that risk.
Using technology, you can even receive medical care from home. Telehealth can distribute health-related services and information through a video call or online message. Telehealth has become essential now more than ever. With telehealth, you can communicate with your healthcare providers remotely and receive care accordingly from the comfort of your own home. Unless you have an urgent concern, you don’t have to step foot into a hospital.
When learning how to use technology, we recommend asking your doctor how you can contact them for telehealth purposes as early as possible.
Your mobile device is a source of endless entertainment. Once you learn how to scour the Internet for things you want to watch, read, or play, boredom will become a thing of the past.
And for many people, having many sources of entertainment can help you stay mentally sharp, updated with the times, and stress-free.
Closing the digital divide remains a big challenge for many older adults. But as you can see, there are many ways you can overcome the confusion and frustration that you may feel when using today’s technology. All you have to do is dive into it, and you’ll soon learn that it’s not as daunting as you thought it would be.