Tech Savvy Seniors

If you were born around the middle of the last century, you were growing up in an age when technology was taking some pretty big leaps.  You may recall the first stereo broadcast in 1958 or the first audio cassette being produced in 1962.  Perhaps you even recall when the first mobile phone was released to the public in 1983, the Motorola Dynatac.  The Dynatac featured LED display and had the capacity to store 30 phone numbers, and it hit the market at around $4000.

Since then, mobile phone technology has moved through some pretty dramatic growing up phases.  They became smaller in size and weight, while capabilities became greater, progressing through to the introduction of smart phones in the 1990’s.

If you’re finding it hard to keep up, you’re not alone.  The advancement of technology is quickening, and you could easily be forgiven for finding it all a little daunting.  It’s not unusual for seniors to find it difficult to come to grips with technology that younger generations take for granted, especially considering that today’s technology is often not designed with senior users in mind.

For example, the response time for icons on an Apple screen is 0.7 seconds, but the over-65s have a response time of about one second.

While using touchscreens may come easy enough to a toddler, this isn’t necessarily true for an older person as the nerves in the finger become less sensitive with age, meaning older people may “touch” far more heavily.

If you’re an older person who has a slight tremor, it can be registered on a modern device as a swipe rather than a touch.  It is these subtle issues that erode confidence and cause confusion.

Ian Hosking, an expert in design for the elderly at the University of Cambridge’s engineering design centre, believes we need to get the basics right first.

“There are some very tech-savvy older people around, but there is clearly a large cohort of people who feel excluded by technology. They find it a bit impenetrable,” he says.

Despite any resistance you may feel towards technology, there are plenty of advantages to becoming a little more tech savvy as a senior.

Technology helps you stay connected

As travelling around the globe has become more accessible, technology has made staying in contact with loved ones easier.  Being able to see and talk to children and grandchildren in real time via technology, allows for you to remain connected and involved in their lives.

Technology can be useful

From reading the morning news on your tablet or smartphone, to providing independent living solutions, technology has endless possibilities for practical use for seniors.  With a rising elderly population, tech companies cannot afford to ignore the need for senior friendly devices.  Some mobile phones that are specifically aimed at the elderly are even coming with built in panic buttons.

Technology can be simple

Look for devices that have simplified interfaces with larger icons, more readable fonts, and lots of video tutorials for novices.  Many manufacturers are also creating phones with larger buttons and extra loud speakers.

Get help

Fortunately, there are endless tutorials available online for anyone requiring assistance in getting familiar with their new device.  You might also like to check out local senior citizen clubs and organisations for any workshops they may run to assist you in becoming more tech savvy.  Your local library may also run information sessions or workshops that are geared towards seniors and technology.   And If your grandchildren are old enough, enlist their help to guide you into the the 21st century.

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