Adjusting and adapting to new technology isn’t always easy, and there is a steep learning curve for everyone at first. For older adults, the quest to adjust to new tech is often more intimidating than it is for younger folks.
However, it’s vital that older adults are able to use new tech. From maintaining social connections to managing finances with ease, there are many benefits baby boomers can reap from tech use.
As someone reaches retirement age, it can become more difficult to adapt to new technological changes, and many baby boomers simply don’t bother. These older adults don’t have to be left in a technological void, though.
Tips for Helping Baby Boomers Learn to Use Devices
Many devices are specifically designed to be straightforward and easy to use. More than 50% of older adults actively and routinely use the internet, and 33% of people age 65 and older use social media networks.
Research shows that older adults who are able to adjust to new technology experience an improved quality of life in regard to their health and their social connections.
In some cases, the high cost of connectivity and tech devices is a barrier to access, so it’s important to gather information about low-cost programs that can help older adults. Two such programs are Lifeline and the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. When they are trying out new tech, the best way to help older adults learn is to show them. Below are five tips for helping seniors adjust to new technology.
1. Be Patient
It’s important to acknowledge and understand an older person’s apprehension about using new tech. Older adults need you to show patience as they learn, even when it might feel repetitive. Take things slowly! Make sure to let the person know that it’s okay to ask questions and that you don’t mind repetition.
2. Personalize the Experience
If an older adult has trouble reading small text, show them how to adjust the font size. If the person you are helping has severe arthritis, it may be very difficult for them to hold a small device or manipulate a small touchscreen, so help them acquire a larger device.
Many websites are ADA-accessible, and those with visual impairments can use a reader app to have words on the screen spoken to them. Settings on many devices include options for high-contrast displays, as well.
3. Address Safety and Security
According to a study by the AARP, 85% of adults who are 50–65 years of age are concerned about their privacy and safety while using the internet. And rightly so.
You can help older adults stay safe online by showing them how to download and use a password manager app, how to set secure passwords, and how to set their privacy settings on social networks so only their friends can view their information.
Warn them not to accept connection requests from people they don’t know. And let them know that they should never send sensitive information via text, chat, or email. Emphasize the importance of not clicking on suspicious links.
4. Write Things Down
Encourage older adults who are learning new tech to write notes for themselves to help them remember things like the URLs of their most-used websites, details about how to use apps, and anything else they might need.
This can include usernames and passwords in case the password manager fails, too. However, they should keep sensitive passwords in a secure location away from their computer or device.
5. Encourage Social Media
For many older adults, staying in touch with loved ones and friends is of the utmost importance. Staying connected is beneficial to their social life, their mental health, and their well-being. One great way to keep in touch is through social media.
The best social media sites for baby boomers are YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Take the time to help them create accounts and show them how to add friends, create and update their profiles and posts, and add photos.
Always stress the importance of staying safe on social media. Make sure they know how to manage their own security and privacy settings in the apps, too. Ultimately, older adults can learn to use new tech to their benefit with a bit of patient help from you, which can significantly enhance their everyday lives.