It’s a well-known stereotype – an elderly person fidgeting with their digital device, leaving them totally befuddled.

For many of us, technology is a part of our day-to-day activities. We move effortlessly through numerous digital devices and apps, create accounts, socialize, shop and overcome any technical barriers we may come across. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case when it comes to senior adults.

The internet offers a world of opportunities for learning new information, reading, staying connected, and much more right at your fingertips. We all want to encourage old folks to stay up to date with the latest news and remain engaged in the community – but at the same time, we worry for their digital safety and the dangers they may face while browsing the web.

Bridging the Gap

Engaging with technology can be challenging for seniors. A study published in the journal Healthcare found that often, “frustration” with new technology made seniors unsure of their ability to use it, leaving them unmotivated to even attempt it. According to researchers from the study, this hurdle led to a lack of self-confidence and motivation when pursuing technology.

Older adults need to embrace technology more, and it’s our job to grow their digital skills while building their confidence. A lot of new technology has been marketed towards the elderly in ways that can benefit them significantly. From smartwatches monitoring your blood pressure and counting your steps to your smartphone’s screen magnification and voice noting, maneuvering digital devices has become a lot easier. Here are some ways you can help support them:

4 Ways to Boost Digital Skills

  1. Schedule time: When helping older adults, it is important to set aside some time each day to help train them and build their digital skills. Being consistent will help them reach their goals when learning how to use their devices
  2. Be patient: Repetition and patience are important elements when coaching about technology. Create “cheat sheets” that can allow them to follow instructions if they forget how to do something. This will allow them to build their confidence and become more independent
  3. Avoid complicated vocabulary: When explaining concepts in technical terms to someone who is not familiar with it, it can become overwhelming. Don’t rush and use plain language to make the process easier (rather than saying URL, use the term website address)
  4. Prioritize Cybersecurity: Online security is crucial at any age. With so many frauds and scams happening, especially during the pandemic, following best practices will prevent older adults from falling victim to these online dangers. Install web filtering and scam protection to your devices as a first line of defense against malicious attacks

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