Changing times, new technology—making it a whole new world! Everyone wants to have the latest and greatest technology—seniors are no exception! You have a savvy, older parent that wants to keep up with the ever changing times—So, what do they do? They purchase the newest smartphone, T.V., or computer,of course! They may, however, become easily frustrated or annoyed by not being able to understand how it works. What happens if the technology is out of their technology skill set? What can you do to help?
Here’s some tips, to all you kids out there that volunteer to be kind, and teach them how to use them. These are simple and basic, but they should do the trick!
Keep calm and use your skills:
- Stay calm. No matter how frustrated you get just take a breath and remember how hard it was for you to first learn how to work things when you first tried something new. Be patient! You may have to repeat the same task more than once before they understand how it works.
- Just listen. Sometimes listening to what they want to do, you are able to pick out keywords and phrases that might let you understand what they really mean. Take your time to really hear what is being said, so you can explain the right aspects of the technology. They might know more than you’re giving them credit for!
- Respect your elders. Especially in this case, be kind! Don’t rush through the instructions and carefully explain things in full detail. Do not raise your voice and speak with respect, no matter how frustrated you might get. Do make them feel comfortable asking questions, even when the question seems obvious or simple. No one wants to feel like they are inferior or that they aren’t smart. Let them know that many people need assistance with technology—-it isn’t a reflection of intelligence!
- Let them do it. You can point to show them where, or what to click, but allow them to perform the action themselves. By doing this, they learn how to do it on their own, giving them their own independence. We learn by doing. It is appropriate to model the action first, however, allow them to perform the functions themselves. Watch carefully and you can guide them, rather than doing it themselves. This is a great way to check for understanding.
- Don’t give up and storm off. You can get mad or frustrated but remember to handle the situation gracefully and with a happy attitude. If you do get frustrated, take a break, then come back refreshed and ready to exercise patience. Remember, this is difficult for them, too! Treat each other with love and tolerance.
- Be understanding. Try to keep in mind what you find as simple, maybe isn’t as simple for them. Try to put yourself in their shoes. If this is new to them, keep in mind that the technology may not be intuitive to them. Give them a chance to make mistakes and experiment—-it won’t hurt anything.
Some simple things you can do for when you’re not there:
- Provide some simple written directions including shortcuts for things, visual cues, pictures, etc. If you’re not around, they can use the instructions double check what they are doing, before having to panic. Make sure to walk them through the instructions at least once, before leaving them alone with the technology.
- Whenever your parents have a technical issue, make a video tutorial. Again, go into detail into what the problem is and how to fix it. Go slow in the tutorial, so that they have time to follow it with you. Show them how to pause, playback, or forward through the tutorial if they aren’t sure how to use the controls.
- If they still have a problem, make sure they know that they can call to ask any further questions.
It can be stressful, thinking about parents wanting to get tech savvy, but it doesn’t have to be distressing for anyone. Technology can be a great compliment for both parents and adult children. Learning how to use Facebook, learning how to take pictures, learning how to access pictures of the grandkids, learning how to play games online, and staying connected is a great way for aging parents keep busy and to feel closer to their friends and family. You will not only grow together, but learn to have patience and a better understanding of each other and of the world in today’s ever changing, ever growing society.