Learning how to use new technology is challenging for most of us, regardless of age or experience. When it comes to our senior adults, this challenge can be far greater because they didn’t grow up with much, if any of the technology we have today and may have not had a need to use it at all for most of their lives.
Now that technology, like iPads, Skype, FaceTime, and social media, offer new and valuable ways to stay in touch with loved ones, many senior adults have realized the need to learn how to use technology. If this applies to you or someone you know, before you become overwhelmed, first start with these five tips that aim to make learning new technology not only achievable, but fun!
- Learn what they hope to do with this technology.
When anyone wants to learn how to use a new technology, it’s so important to begin with the “Why?” Find out why they want to use this technology and how they plan to use it. For example, if your mom or dad wants to create a Facebook account and learn how to use this social platform, you’ll want to know their goals for doing so. If all they want to do is connect with friends to be able to see photos and updates in their newsfeed, then these are the skills you want to focus on first before overwhelming them with things like creating a Facebook Live video or adding to their Facebook Stories.
- Start small and space out your “lessons.”
When introducing someone to a new technology, you always want to start with the small and simple steps to understanding the essentials. How do they log in to their account or turn on the device? How do they navigate to the home screen? How do they post content or leave a comment? Start with just one or two of these items in your first lesson, then give them a few days to practice this knowledge before moving on to additional pieces.
- Think like they think.
When teaching an aging loved one how to use a new technology that may be completely foreign to them, try to think like they think. You’ll need to separate yourself from what may be second nature to you, and think like someone who has never seen this technology before. What is intuitive to you, is not likely intuitive to someone from a different generation. It’s also important to speak in basic terms and avoid using “tech” terms that are unfamiliar and confusing.
- Seek out senior-friendly options and solutions.
Remember, there are usually multiple ways to accomplish the same or similar tasks with technology. Just because you use one particular form of technology, doesn’t mean it is right for your aging loved one. For example, iPhones tend to be more user-friendly to older generations than competing brands like Samsung and Google. If one form of technology proves to be too challenging to navigate, be willing to research alternate options or seek advice from an expert.
- Offer praise and encouragement.
Finally and most importantly, be quick to offer praise and encouragement! Think of how you feel when you get frustrated leaning something new. It’s likely when your loved one hits a road block or feels defeated they may want to give up or feel bad about not learning as quickly as they would like. Show encouragement that this is all part of the learning curve and that you’re here to help. It’s also uplifting to share your own struggles with technology so they know they are not alone on this journey.
Do you or someone you know struggle to learn the essentials of new technology? Have you come across other helpful ways to assist with this?
Share your advice, or ask us a question by leaving a comment below!