How to Introduce New Technology to Seniors

Older generations have been known to be late adopters of technology when compared to their younger counterparts. However, as technology evolves and grows, seniors can find it easier to adopt these new devices. Learning how to use newer technology can be quite daunting, but when you understand all of the possibilities, it can be an eye-opening experience.

“This is something they can do,” said Ami Moyal, co-founder of The Gadget Guides. Moyal created the company after he taught his grandparents how to use technology. The Gadget Guides offers classes on how to use and understand today’s technology. He suggests easing seniors into the process by making it as personal as possible. Determine what device works best for them by discovering what they want to learn.

Tablets are popular technology in many senior communities. Pew Research Center found that 18 percent of seniors use a tablet computer such as an iPad. These and other tablets offer capabilities that evenly match today’s computers. Tablets tend to be easy to navigate, are lightweight and user-friendly. From world news to classic television, a lot of what seniors love can be accessed via a handheld tablet. Tablets can also help seniors communicate with loved ones via video chat applications such as Facetime or Skype.

For seniors who love to read, an e-reader is technology to consider. E-readers contain printed material on a well-lit screen and can store a vast number of reading materials. Pew Research Center notes that another 18 percent of seniors have started using e-readers such as a Kindle. One of the biggest benefits of the e-reader is adjustable text size. Reading with glasses and/or purchasing books with a large font size will be things of the past thanks to the simple press of a button on an e-reader. These devices are easy to carry, too, and can contain a whole library’s worth of novels, magazines and travel guides. Select public libraries even offer the ability to digitally rent books.

First Steps with New Tech

Make tech adoption easier on your senior and set up the basics for them. Equip their new device with applications that are relevant and help them navigate through each one. Teach them how to use the device and load it with their favorite movies, books and even treasured photos. Moyal suggests showing them how to access the camera and then working your way to how to share photos.

An Intro to the Internet

With internet-ready devices, websites become resources for seniors to tap into anytime and anyplace. Thanks to sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we are now more connected than ever before. Social media can be a great way to stay up-to-date with the lives of a senior’s children and grandchildren. Other sites allow seniors to explore the world from the comfort of their home.

  • Facebook is a site where seniors and their loved ones can share photos, news and information. It now features more than 1 billion users, so you are likely to find family and friends on here — both distant and nearby.
  • Pinterest can help baby boomers and beyond discover information through appealing visuals. This social channel tends to be popular among retirees because of its image-based design and easy-to-use navigation. Recipes, arts and crafts are just a few of the many topics seniors will find appealing.
  • Google Earth allows seniors to see images of places around the world as if they were standing there in person. Moyal said one of his most memorable moments in one of the classes he teaches was seeing the emotions on seniors’ faces as he explored his hometown through Google Earth.

Ask family and friends who are familiar with these sites to set up an account for your senior loved one and walk them through all of the specifics. It may be easier to start than you had perceived.

A common fear among seniors is thinking they’re too old to learn about technology. But those worries can be easily erased by simply spending some time walking them through a device and showing them all that technology can do.

Moyal said that once one senior in a community starts using a device, curiosity and interest increase among neighbors and friends. Seniors can’t be forced to learn these new devices, but capturing their interest and curiosity can create a desire to learn — making the teaching process easier. One of the ways the Gadget Guides introduces the internet to seniors is through the video sharing site YouTube, Moyal said. “They love YouTube. You’d be surprised how much they love the cat videos.”   

Once seniors get the hang of operating a new piece of technology, think about the gift possibilities for birthdays and holidays. Accessories such as noise-cancelling headphones for the hearing impaired, stands to hold up tablets and portable chargers are just a few ideas.

Sources: Pew Research Center, New York Times, Caring.com

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