5 Steps to Help You Embrace Digital Life
By Anthony J. Curatolo, Advisor
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our lives and changed the way we work, communicate, and function daily. Amid the chaos and confusion of this ongoing crisis, one unifying force has emerged, allowing us to continue to remain connected: online communications. However, not everyone is on board the “tech-train”. Lack of knowledge, accessibility, and training has left many, primarily older adults (55+), outside the digital-loop. This has been termed the technological-gap.
Closing the technological gap could allow you to have greater control over your life, finances, and provide relief during these isolating times, but where does one begin?
- Understand your technological needs
If you have ever made the mistake of going to the grocery store without a list on an empty stomach, you will understand that an over-abundance of choice without a clear plan can have unpredictable results. The tech market is constantly releasing new smart devices, which can be overwhelming, but it’s likely just a few key pieces can fulfill the majority of your needs. Making a list of areas you need more assistance or improvement could help you hone in your devices.
2. Identify what you do and don’t know
Einstein may have put it best when he said “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” If you have a baseline of your abilities, you can then work to establish which gaps need to be filled. After determining the devices you need, compile your current skill level for each one. Even if it’s just knowing how to turn it on; that’s a start.
3. Evaluate the resources available to you
The recent Special Issue on Mobile Technology for the Journal of Interactive Learning Research found that older adults (55+) are actively exploring and utilizing the internet and social media to learn from others at increasing rates. The internet has made it easier than ever to gather a myriad of resources on any subject at any time. The majority of major tech companies have both customer service lines and online help sites that can assist around the clock. AARP also has an online database with workshops and tutorials providing complementary technology training.
4. Focus on the small steps
It’s not a race! It’s ok to feel intimated by the vastness of new and emerging tech. No one learns everything at once. If you’re struggling with your smart device, just focus on learning one app at a time until you feel comfortable. Filter out the unnecessary information, the extra features that you may never use, and just concentrate on the important aspects. This isn’t a school exam, so use as many handwritten notes or guides as you need.
5. Give feedback
Companies want you to use their products. That is their end-goal. If you have tried to learn how to use a device, and unexpected issues keep emerging than it is most likely the product design that is flawed, not you. With how fast the tech industry moves, companies can release patches and fixes in a matter of days if they know there is an ongoing issue.
There is no shame in being a beginner. At some point even the most talented inventors and innovators were beginners. The technology available today can connect you to your friends and family and potentially allow you to have greater control over your life. Our team is here to support you and your family as we continue to navigate these turbulent times.
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