Article from AginginPlace, Updated for May 2020
Seniors in a digital world can be easily overwhelmed by all the new technology around us. We are surrounded by an array of digital devices, whether its smartphones, social media, tablets, banking machines, or laptops. There’s no avoiding it, so we should learn how to use all these technological advances to make life easier. It’s easy to become tech savvy seniors when you begin to learn more about the technology around you.
Technology is used in every facet of life because it can provide the speed, connectivity, and efficiency to make tasks easier. We all want things to be easier and faster and as an older adult, it’s important not to underestimate how technology can help you in your golden years.
This is the information age where questions can be answered in an instant, and when we take advantage of being informed and connected then we can gain the knowledge and know-how necessary to helping ourselves and improving our lives. Getting digital literacy training can give older adults the skills and confidence to access information and services online.
Indeed, getting some simple training in using computers, tablets, and smartphones can help seniors to stay connected with their families, friends, and communities. This is especially important for seniors who wish to live independently and age at home.
If you want to learn the basics or just brush up on your digital know-how we can give you pointers on how to become a tech-savvy senior in no time.
The definition of a computer is an electronic device that manipulates information or data and has the ability to store, retrieve, and process data. A computer comes in three basic forms, but we include smartphones as a fourth type of computer because of its personal computing capabilities
Types of Computers
It’s true that most of your lives were lived without the modern gadgets of today, and you did just fine thank you very much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use technology.
A desktop computer usually comes with separate components that make up the desktop whole. It comprises a screen called a monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, and the computer box itself (called a tower).
Many newer versions of desktop computers, known as “all-in-ones,” combine the monitor and computer box into a single unit with a separate keyboard. It relies on main power connection with a power cable.
A tablet computer is a lightweight, wireless, and portable personal computer with a touchscreen flat surface. The tablet is usually smaller than a notebook computer but larger than a smartphone.
Tablets can also serve as a camera (front and also rear in some) for photography and video capabilities. It also has a battery that can last a number of hours but it also has a cable for charging directly into a power source.
A smartphone is a cellular phone device with the capabilities of a personal computer.
Similar to a tablet, they use a touchscreen surface and have cameras for photography and video recording.
For most people, smartphones are used as portable personal computers since they are able to connect to the Internet, run software applications, and allow you to do most of the things on a personal computer.
A laptop computer, also known as a notebook, is a single box that opens up like a clamshell, with the monitor on top and keyboard and mouse below.
Laptops are convenient in that they are portable and in addition to a power cable it also uses battery power, which can last for a number of hours.
Useful Things You Can Do With a Computer:
Browse the Internet
Manage your finances
Download and watch movies
Listen to music
Stay in touch with friends and family (via social media software such as Facebook or voice calls and video chats via software like Skype)
Sharing photo albums
Edit your own video and photos
Learning How to Use a Computer
Now that we’ve established why computers are important in today’s world, and you understand what the main types of computer are, it’s time to get savvy with the wonderful ways you can use them.
Whether you want to learn how to use email, browse the Internet, do video calls with your grandkids, purchase gifts or other items online, or share and view photos with friends and family, it’s easier than you think.
If you have a family member (grandkids are naturals!) or friend to show you some basics, that’s great. If not, then there are several choices out there. Where do you start? Good news, there are lots of places for seniors to go and get computer literate.
Here are some of the best resources available to seniors who want to know their way around computers.
1.) How-To Books for Seniors
Visit your local library or bookstore. There you’ll be sure to find a variety of books to help you learn how to use different types of technologies. Some are quite simple to follow and written specifically for seniors such as the Visual Steps and For Dummies series of books. You can also order these books online at sites like Amazon.com.
2.) Online Instruction
If you already have access to a computer and can use the Internet then there are several online services that offer technology lessons and instructional videos while allowing you to go at your own pace.
If you can afford to pay for an online series, try Geekatoo.com. It costs $79 for a two-hour tutorial instruction along with technical support if you get stuck.
If you don’t mind doing a bit of browsing there are also have many YouTube video instructors that can offer quick overviews on general computer know-how and specifics such as setting up a Facebook account or doing Skype calls.
Using a computer can let you stay informed, share information, organize your schedule, do your banking, find and listen to your favorite music, watch old episodes of your favorite shows and films, the list goes on.Indeed, with all the resources and help available you may find yourself becoming a technical expert sooner than you think.
3.) Take a Local Class or Workshop
You will probably be able to find a local workshop or class for seniors right in your own community (these classes might be virtual right now, not in person). Indeed, there is a great demand for such types of courses. Whether it’s a beginner’s class for computer basics or a specific series on how to become proficient using certain software or applications, it’s a great way to get out and learn with peers.
AARP TEK Workshops
TEK workshops are free of charge to the public. They offer technology learning events on tablets or smartphones across various cities throughout the U.S. Their contact number is 202-434-3021 and website AARPTEK.org.
Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLIs)
LLIs offer many courses to retirees and some may include technology courses. To find an LLI that offers computer/technology classes, contact your closest adult college. You can also search the websites of Osherand Elderhostel. They are two organizations that support approximately 500 LLI programs nationwide.
This organization offers a variety of basic online computer courses geared at seniors. They also offer instructor-led workshops at 36 learning centers throughout the United States. There is a membership fee of $43 for the first year. Contact them at 239-275-2202 for more information.
Offering free computer and digital technology classes at local senior centers, church halls, public libraries or employment centers, across 30 U.S. cities. You can visit them on OasisNet.org/connections or contact them at 314-862-2933 ext. 272.
Older Adults Technology Services (OATS)
Becoming Tech Savvy Seniors
It may sound fancy and unrealistic to some, but it is not that hard to become tech savvy seniors. Just try and keep an open mind and let go of any preconceived notions that technology is complicated and not ‘your thing’.
It’s true that most of your lives were lived without the modern gadgets of today, and you did just fine thank you very much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use technology. Give it a chance and let technology show you what it can do for you.
It’s nice to know that you can stay connected to loved ones and friends (no matter if you or they are in the grocery store, traveling abroad on vacation, or even in the yard gardening).