By Mike Whitmire, iTOK VP of Marketing
Technology touches almost every part of daily life, but it can be difficult for older adults to learn how to operate the latest gadget or download popular new programs. Does change always have to be so challenging? Adopting a positive mindset and taking small steps to understand the functions of a tablet or laptop can go a long way in easing the pains of technology adoption.
Embrace new software for optimal results
Microsoft recently unveiled its newest operating system, Windows 10, and offered the software upgrade for free. Despite the opportunity to download new technology without any monetary obligation, not everyone took advantage of it. In fact, an iTOK survey found that 64 percent of Windows customers over age 55 were indeed reluctant to get the free update, because they thought it might impact their ability to stay connected with friends and family.
Many seniors connect online as a convenient and inexpensive way to stay in close contact with people who might live far away. They don’t upgrade their software because they’re comfortable with it, and after all, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, not upgrading software is more likely to make applications such as FaceTime and Skype incompatible with outdated versions. Therefore, it’s best to install new software periodically instead of once every couple of years. This makes it easier to adapt to incremental technology changes.
Don’t go at it alone
A family member or friend may be able to assist in navigating the ins and outs of a device or a regularly used application. For more in-depth questions – or when family and friends aren’t available – a remote tech support specialist is a great resource. Tech support specialists can resolve digital glitches, walk through fixes, and demonstrate how devices can be optimized.
A knowledgeable tech professional should be readily available, encourage questions, be transparent about pricing, explain things in everyday language, and ensure a person who needs guidance can use technology to suit their individual lifestyle. Look for “people support,” not just “tech support” – an expert who essentially works with you like a one-to-one private tutor. Eventually, after learning step-by-step how to fix a problem, seniors will be better equipped to resolve tech challenges on their own.
Approach technology like anything else you had to learn
From writing an email to sharing pictures on Facebook, there are a lot of things that technology encompasses in everyday life. Learn one function at a time, start with the basics, and build up to the more complicated processes. To a child, writing an essay seems like an insurmountable task – so they start with learning the alphabet, then spelling short words, followed by constructing sentences, paragraphs and so on. Over time, practice makes perfect. Get comfortable with sending emails and messages, and move on to linking interesting articles and attaching photos or videos.
Technology hurdles might seem impossible to jump over sometimes, but seniors shouldn’t be overwhelmed or discouraged. Take control of the situation, and know that there are tools and dedicated people who can be of great assistance to technology learners. With patience, dedication and a little bit of effort, seniors can surely ease their tech struggles.