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How Older Adults Can Stay in Touch with Technology

young man teaching a old man using tablet

Only a few decades ago, household technology was relatively simple. You had a stereo for playing music, TV to watch, and a telephone for quick communication. Over time, however, technology got more complicated. Other devices, such as game consoles, personal computers, and video players began to fill our homes throughout the 80s and 90s.

The rise of the Internet, combined with the tech boom of the 2000s brought about another sea-change as mobile technology, in the form of tablets and phones, began to replace the functions of multiple electronic items. Over the last few years, “smart” technologies have been integrated into our homes, cars and public spaces, raising questions of privacy even while providing a high level of convenience to the users of these technologies.

Some older adults may feel left behind by these technology changes. This is unfortunate because many of these technologies offer real benefits to seniors that can make their lives more enjoyable.

The Technology Gap

Many experts believe the technology gap between seniors and younger people has less to do with age and more to do with daily environment. Children, teens and college students work with new technologies in their educational environments. Career age adults are likely expected to use technology in the workplace.

Adults who have retired, however, don't have the benefit of an environment that introduces them to new technologies. In addition, many people increase their exposure to technology through their peers. If one’s peers aren’t using new tech, that exposure won’t happen.

Technology for Seniors Made Easy

Fortunately, there are multiple ways in which older adults can improve their technology literacy. In many communities, libraries, schools, and community centers offer “technology for seniors” classes that introduce you to computers, mobile devices, social media, and other high-tech products and services. These classes can also provide information that can protect you against invasions of privacy, scams and other online threats, such as computer viruses and identity theft.

Another option is to seek out the younger people in your life and ask for help. Children, grandchildren, and neighbors may all be willing to sit down with you and show you the latest mobile apps or help you set up a Facebook account.

Finally, the best way to become tech-savvy is to simply use technology each day. Text a friend and ask if she wants to go for a walk, take a photo with your camera and post it to your Facebook page or use a fitness tracker app to set a new exercise goal. As with most things, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to try something new.