Crossing the Digital Divide
These days, there are plenty of gadgets designed to help us monitor our health and well-being; stay in touch with far-flung family and friends; and manage our household. They come in the form of smartphone apps, wearable devices, computers, tablets and even smart appliances and home technology.
One of the obstacles to widespread adoption is that not all of us grew up using such technology, like the younger generations of today. It can be intimidating to try out new devices, which grandchildren seem to pick up with ease. While our learning curve may be steeper, it isn’t insurmountable.
While it’s easy to appreciate the advantages of using email, Facetime and social media to stay in touch; apps and online portals to automate and monitor finances; smartphones to take and view shared photos, download and listen to music, or watch movies, simply understanding the perks doesn’t make it any easier to learn. Sometimes it can make it all the more frustrating when we struggle.
It may be helpful to focus on learning one type of gadget or task to start, such as learning to use a smartphone, Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa or other voice-enabled technology to call for help if you’re unable to reach your phone.
Here are a few resources experienced in helping older adults learn to cross the technological divide:1
- SeniorNet: Offers a variety of basic online computer courses geared toward older adults. Visit SeniorNet.org or call (239) 275-2202 for more information.
- Oasis Connections: Offers free computer and digital technology classes at local senior centers, church halls, public libraries and employment centers across 30 U.S. cities. Visit OasisNet.org/connections or call (314) 862-2933, ext. 272.
- Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLIs): Offer a variety of courses to retirees, including technology. Contact local colleges and universities to find an LLI that offers computer/technology classes for adults.
1 National Council for Aging Care. Sept. 14, 2018. “How to Become Tech Savvy Seniors in 10 Days.” http://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-become-tech-savvy-for-seniors-in-10-days/. Accessed Oct. 11, 2018.