5 Tips for Introducing Technology to Seniors
Technology isn’t just an extra little thing to enhance your life; it’s an important, integral element in the way we think, act, and communicate.
But for seniors, the rapidly advancing technology can seem like a scary, confusing jungle that they’re not quite sure how to navigate.
You want Mom and Dad to be able to keep up with what the grandkids who live across the country are doing, or look up information they may find interesting, but they’re hesitant to jump in with both feet.
Introducing technology to seniors so they understand its benefits and can navigate things on their own isn’t impossible, but it does take some extra care and consideration.
Here are 5 tips for introducing technology to seniors:
Start with What They Know
If your loved one has never browsed the internet before, put it into terms they can understand based on existing knowledge.
For example, comparing a website’s URL to a street address helps solidify the concept that the online address is the place where they can find that specific information, and it’s like a roadmap to finding what they want. Google and other search engines can be thought of as the library card catalog or an encyclopedia, where they type in the subject they want to learn more about and then read articles that provide the information.
If your loved one is into sending handwritten letters, introduce emailing or even texting as a way to write a letter that gets sent immediately and without a stamp.
Making these small connections will help your loved one see the benefits and relevance of the technology you’re planning to introduce, making them more likely to stick with it when things get a bit confusing.
Explain Relevance First
Before you plan to introduce a new piece of technology, take some time to explain to the senior why you think they will benefit from its use.
Instead of just launching into how to use Facebook, for example, tell them that it’s a great place to see pictures and videos of the people they love, even if they’re not close enough to visit every day. Pull up some photos of a grandchild or sibling who’s already on the platform. They’ll enjoy seeing the photo and will see how easy it is to access information.
Watch Your Language
While terms such as “emoji” and “selfie” may be second-nature to you, they might as well be Greek to some tech-uninitiated seniors.
When discussing the technology, take a step back and think about the terms you’re using to walk them through the application you’re trying to get them to use.
Avoid technical language or jargon and instead break things down into easier to understand explanations that your loved one can better relate to.
Signing into your email or sending a quick text may not seem like a complicated process, but that’s because you’ve done them many, many times.
Remember the first text message you ever sent? It probably took you a while, you likely misspelled something, and maybe you even sent it to the wrong number. Your loved one is at that level learning this new technology.
After you introduce a new step in whatever technology you’re teaching, give them some time to process and repeat that step until they feel they’ve mastered it. Also, consider creating a how-to document for even things as simple as logging into an email account or sending a text; it will decrease the amount of frustrated follow-up calls you receive and help your loved one feel more independent with the technology.
It’s easy to forget just how marvelous some technology is. You can carry the answers to all of your questions, contact information for every person you care about, a house worth of books, and several time-wasting games in your pocket – How cool is that?
Your loved one may be more receptive to trying out new technology if you show just how wonderful it can be.
Zoom in on their childhood home on Google Earth, show them a picture of their ancestor’s headstone on Find a Grave, or hook them up with a video call with a long-lost friend or faraway relative.
The “wow” factor of technology will leave your loved one wanting to know and use it more, increasing their mastery of the concepts and expanding their horizons.
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