Technology and Seniors: Practice Makes It Easier

If you are an aging child and you have parents who use or want to use computers, check out this great web site.

The Senior’s Guide to Computers, run and updated by Jeff Mayer, features wide-ranging advice, ideas, illustrations, tutorials, and much more. His explanations are in simple plain English, and it’s possible to choose an easy-to-read font size that fits your vision. There’s even a handy technology glossary.

I am a technology teacher at a school and have been for over 25 years, so a day does not go by without a parent, friend, or a neighbor asking me questions.

My most enjoyable tutoring/teaching experiences are often with seniors, because they are so eager to learn about computers and technology. To a person, seniors understand the communication power that comes into their lives when they begin to use technology effectively.

What they do not see, often, is the need for practice, largely because so many lead active and full lives and find limited time for the practice. So sometimes a person works hard to learn a new task, for instance download digital pictures for the grandchildren, but then not practice it for several days afterward. This is a recipe for frustration.

Here are  five suggestions for decreasing computer frustration in a mature adult (not limited to senior parents).

  1. When you begin word processing or web exploration or whatever new task you are learning, do it every day (just like exercise), even if you are just typing out a schedule or a letter. Try not to miss a day for a few weeks so that the steps become second nature.  When you miss even a day right after learning something new, you have not had adequate time to store the new information in your brain.
  2. Write down the steps and locations for saving and practice them each time you word process ( ask someone to help you). Learn how to save a file in two different places so that you always have a back-up (and avoid losing files)
  3. Think in simple terms. We all get excited about computers and try to accomplish advanced tasks way too soon. It will be a while before you do the newsletter for the bridge club or a church activity. Somehow computers inspire us to have grand visions.
  4. Master one task at a time. This means, at the very beginning, you will do e-mail or word processing or web surfing. Tech skills are cumulative, however, so each task will help you learn things that will come in handy the next time you start a new topic.
  5. Don’t act like technology is scary or like you are dumb (even if you feel that way), especially around your grandchildren. You did not get to be the age you are by acting like this. Understand that mastering technology skills is like learning a new language.

Most of the people who I help are accomplished learners, so they tend to underestimate the time and consistent work that it takes to master new and very different technology tasks.

Enjoy learning new skills, and don’t forget that great technology for seniors web site.

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