How To Teach Computer Skills To Seniors
Ever seen your elderly father or mother try to use the computer? Well, I have, and to tell you the truth, it made my day. I couldn’t help but laugh throughout the day each time I remembered the amusing sight.
Although, this was something we could all laugh over at home, I quickly got over it when it became my responsibility to perform whatever tasks they wanted to perform.
“Chris, I’m trying to send an email to Godiva but it is not going through. Please come and send it for me.”
I didn’t mind doing it until similar scenarios kept repeating time and time. I had enough and knew what had to be done if I didn’t want this to continue.
Being an experienced teacher, I understood how challenging adapting to new technologies at their age could be.
This is especially true in our ever-changing technological world where some tech-savvy youth had to struggle to keep up with the modern technological advancements.
Teaching seniors everything you know only makes adopting the technology intimidating for them.
Why seniors should embrace technology
The first step is to identify why seniors should use technology
1. Connecting with family and friends
Communication is one of the key benefits or uses of technology. Years back trying to communicate with a relative or friend required sending a letter via post.
This took weeks, if not months to reach the intended recipient. Trying to get urgent messages to others was a near-impossible task in those days.
Some of our elderly experienced this and have been witnesses to the tremendous change over time.
Conveying information to someone now is almost instantaneous and can be done through multiple avenues.
Bonding with grandchildren has become easier through video chatting, text messaging, and social media.
This enables parents and grandchildren to keep up with their grandparents and other relatives, to be abreast with their lives, and share in their happiness and sorrows.
Yes, entertainment. You read that right. The elderly like the youth love entertainment, if not more. Seniors like to remain active and keep up their strength and keep their minds engaged.
There’s a reason your grandpa can sit in front of the television all day or play a board game with his friend all day.
With platforms like Netflix and Hulu available with the click of a few buttons, accessing movies has become very easy.
Let’s say your grandma gets nostalgic and wants a particular song. There’re numerous websites available that provide access to music, books, puzzles, and many more.
Thanks to technology, they can now play board games with friends online without having to leave the house at all.
Mobility is one of the biggest challenges with old age. Therefore, any tools that can help reduce the amount of work the elderly have to do will be beneficial.
Thanks to technology, tasks like grocery shopping can easily be accomplished through online shopping and all purchases can be delivered to their doorstep.
4. Health & wellness
Getting access to a doctor online in our modern world has become normal.
Although some of the elderly may be more skeptical about this especially since they have been used to the traditional hospital consulting room.
Now doctors can keep up to date with the progress of their patients online through technology.
Using technology, seniors can easily communicate with their doctors, report any issues they may be having and receive advice on the way forward.
Training programs that are geared towards the elderly can also be accessed easily through technology.
Computer skills for the elderly
The second step is to identify the computer skills the seniors need the most. This includes:
- Components of a Computer like a mouse, USB port, earphone jack, and camera
- Switching on a computer
- Creating a password and how to remember it
- Adjusting screen brightness and text sizes
- Understanding and creating file types
- Understanding and creating folders
- Opening, minimizing, maximizing, and closing files and folders
- Installing an application
- Opening and closing an application
- Knowing the uses of an email
- Understanding the difference between an email address and a website address
- Creating an email address
- Sending an email, replying, and forwarding
- Creating, saving, and printing documents and spreadsheets
- Connecting to the internet
- Basic internet browsing
- Understanding basic network concepts like connection, uploading, and downloading
- Use of social media networks like Facebook and Instagram
- Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype
- Positioning your face in front of the webcam during video calls
- Understanding online security and anti-fraud techniques
How to teach seniors computer skills
Elaborate on the benefits
After years of accomplishing some tasks in a specific, tested, and proven way, adopting a new method or approach to accomplishing this same task may seem unnecessary to seniors.
This mindset is quite common with the elderly who sometimes consider learning new technology too much of a hassle.
In order to assuage any such concerns, demonstrating the relevance and importance of the technology will be key.
Calling, messaging, or email a brother, sister, mother, family, family friend, or anyone close to him or her would serve to demonstrate the usefulness and ease of use of the technology.
Bear in mind that, most of the reluctance revolves around fear of using the technology and how difficult it may be to use.
Demonstrating the usefulness would serve to dismiss most or all reservations.
Be mindful of the language and terms you use when approaching a beginner. Some of the slang modern youth use in our everyday conversation may not be adequate when teaching a beginner.
Someone who barely uses a computer may find some of this jargon hard to understand. It is therefore advisable to speak in basic language when teaching computer skills to the elderly or a senior.
Patience is one key factor when teaching anyone but especially key when teaching the elderly.
Teaching someone who is used to technology can be easy especially since they are used to other devices and applications in their day-to-day lives.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the elderly. Most of them are have little to no knowledge of the use of computers, smartphones, and other technology.
This can make understanding a bit more difficult as opposed to teaching a younger person. Additionally, hearing and sight challenges may also be a factor in their slow uptake.
Therefore it is necessary to keep this in mind when teaching a senior how to use the computer.
Celebrate small victories
Confidence can do a lot to motivate people and it’s no different when it comes to adult training.
It is easy to think the elderly are full of confidence after years of experience but in most cases, their confidence with respect to technology is quite low.
Unlike the youth who have grown up with technology in most aspects of their lives, and therefore can pick up new technologies faster, the elderly are quite new to these and therefore feel intimidated by these.
It is, therefore, necessary to celebrate the small victories to keep them motivated to continue in their current progress.
If you don’t believe me, see the smile on his or her face when you congratulate them for doing something successfully.
Play and practice
Introduce them to a game or an activity they like to do and engage them with technology.
This will help them get used to the keys and actions necessary to accomplish specific tasks.
The key to proficiency in anything is practice. Give them enough time to get used to these activities and encourage them to practice more and more.
It has been well documented that some adults have been victims of internet scams and fraud. It is therefore advisable to warn and teach seniors how to secure their information, identify potential scammers, and the actions to take to avoid falling victims to their schemes.
There’s nothing better than your grandmother video calling you on a good day and better yet, seeing her full face in frame as opposed to seeing the ceiling.
The bond our seniors share with us keeps them going and they want to be a part of our lives as much as they can.
Statistics show that the number of seniors who are currently picking up technology worldwide is increasing.
This shows that the elderly have the desire and want to adopt our modern technology to make their lives easier and to better relate with the young in and outside their families.