10 Tips for Teaching Seniors How to Use Technology
Since today’s world is very digital, it’s likely that parents and grandparents will ask about technology. Before you visit your parents or grandparents, look at these 10 tips for teaching seniors how to use technology.
- When introducing new tech concepts, build on existing knowledge. Comparing a new technology concept with something the senior already knows how to use will make it easier for them to understand. For example, web addresses can be compared to street addresses. This helps people understand how web navigation works because it can be easily compared to navigating streets.
- Explain the relevance before going into detail. Before launching into the mechanics of how to use today’s trending gadget, explain how the senior might benefit from using it. If you’re introducing someone to Facebook, start by showing them pictures of their grandchildren they may not have seen lately. Once they see how easily accessible the pictures are, they’ll be more patient with the process of setting up an account and exploring their news feed.
- Avoid technical words and use consistent language. Although emoji and selfie are being used in today’s society, realize that seniors may not know these words. Many tech-related terms may be unfamiliar to seniors. When there are multiple words that can be used to describe something, choose the simplest option and be consistent.
- Watch your pace. This may seem obvious, but it’s important not move too quickly when introducing a senior to technology. Pause between each step to give them a moment to process what they’ve just learned. If you’re not sure whether or not you are moving too quickly, ask the senior how they are feeling about the pace.
- Repeat key concepts. The sheer volume of new information they are taking in can easily overwhelm seniors learning technology for the first time. Repeating key concepts will make them easier to remember and will reinforce the most important takeaways.
- Build in regular time to ask questions. Be sure to build in regular time for questions before moving to new concepts. Some seniors may feel like they can’t ask a question if there isn’t a set time asking questions. Providing a specific time for questions may help make them feel more comfortable. This will also give you an idea of what concepts you need to spend extra time on.
- Let the resident actively practice the new tech skills. When watching a senior struggle to navigate their device it may be tempting to take matters into your own hands, but the time saved in the short-term will not help get good learning results. Seniors need to take an active role when they learn new technology so they can become accustomed to the tactile nuances involved in tapping, clicking, and button pressing.
- Direct them to senior specific tech resources. Encourage the senior to utilize tech resources for seniors between your visits. Be sure they know how to access resources available online such as TechBoomers and AARPTek, because they offer excellent free tech tutorials that are specifically designed for seniors.
- Validate expressions of confusion, but reinforce that they can and will learn. Seniors are used to being more knowledgeable and competent in most of their endeavors because they have more life experiences. It may have been years since they were a novice at something, so when they express frustration, be sure to validate the difficulty of learning technology for the first time. Reinforce that learning something new is always hard but that it will get easier with practice. It may also help to share any difficulties or confusion you’ve experienced when learning technology in the past.
- Seek out wow moments. For everyday technology users, it’s easy to forget how amazing technology really is. Be sure to create opportunities for technology to wow the senior, like showing them their childhood home on Google Earth or FaceTiming with a close friend they haven’t seen in years. The more they see the incredible things that technology allows them to do, the more they will engage with it, which will make mastering it a breeze.