One of my retirement goals has been to become more tech savvy. I’m like many of my fellow senior citizens; I use email, navigate web sites on the Internet, keep up with my family on Facebook, and of course—shop, my most accomplished technical skill.
I did a little research on the Web about seniors and technology. I found out that about 25-30 percent of us spend time on the Internet, send email, and use social media. We’re communicating with family and friends, paying our bills, checking stock portfolios, reading the news, and researching health issues and other information. In fact, according to my Web sources, senior citizens are among the fastest growing segment of the population using the Internet and social media.
What about the other 70-75 percent—those adults 65 and older who have not embraced technology? How do they manage their lives and ignore the electronic universe? Many in this 65+ group have the money to buy tech gadgets, so why aren’t they rushing to fill their homes with computers, iPods, iPads, eReaders, and smart phones? After all, they can ask their grandchildren for help.
For instance, maybe you bought an X-Box for your grandchildren to play when they visit, but you don’t have a clue how to install it. No problem—your five-year-old granddaughter can hook it up, assisted by her three-year-old brother. They’re not afraid of technology—unlike you.
Of course, electronic gadgets always have been part of their lives, and their first experiences possibly occurred while they were babies. Nintendo sells games called “Baby’s First Steps,” which suggests to me that a six-month old is flexing his fingers on the Nintendo DS before he’s toddling out of his playpen.
Why should a machine made of metal and plastic be so intimidating to older adults? Finally I can press the On button without believing that I have moved my laptop one step closer to possible annihilation. I’ve even overcome my fears of tapping icons and keys to see what they do. However, I’ve experienced my share of calamities like helplessly watching my words disappear as System Error flashed on the screen, or text failing to appear even though I carefully saved it—or thought that’s what I did.
I’ve been blaming the computer when trouble happens, but it’s just a machine, a piece of hardware. It’s the software inside that makes the hardware run and causes the problems. Sometimes I don’t understand how the software works, and I don’t ask the right question when I go to the Help menu. In fact, most of the time my questions don’t fit any category that pops up. Finding the right key words often has been a challenge, whether I’m hunting information on a computer or in a printed resource.
Although using a search engine on the computer is my go-to research source, sometimes a printed book is just the resource I need. Recently at News Center I noticed a whole Dummies series of books on technology for seniors. I skimmed through one of them and was impressed at how helpful it was, including clearly defining tech vocabulary in words I understood. I went to Amazon and was amazed at the number of these For Dummies books aimed at seniors, such as Laptops and Tablets For Seniors, Facebook & Twitter For Seniors, Computers For Seniors, iPad 2 For Seniors, and a whole bunch more. Now that’s the kind of technology I understand—explanations in a printed book! Now where is the one written for cell phones?