Electronics is one of the most common gift idea nowadays. We want to introduce some technology to our seniors’ lives and Christmas presents seem to be a great occasion for that. Sometimes they love it and sometimes they hate it. What can we do?
Understanding the problem
Seniors are having a hard time with technology not because they are old and it is harder for them to learn, but because they had very little time to get familiar with it. They were not born in the digital era and they did not get their laptop for their 15th birthday. Your seniors, usually got to use electronics fort the first time as adults so smartphones, tablets, mobile payments or social media is still something new and different from what they saw and experienced so far. They are expected to learn as fast as younger users and become as proficient as them in way shorter time. This is social expectations with an obvious usability barrier – taking into consideration seniors needs is still a very rare UX procedure – brings frustration and demotivation. How to help your senior effectively?
They don’t need to know everything
Being a parent or just being older makes people know more than their kids due to longer life-experience. However, this order has been disrupted by technology use habits. Kids are the ones who teach parents and grandparents about the technology. We can’t expect seniors to learn as fast as we did. When we were playing with the PC as teenagers our parents were working hard to provide us with everything they did not have opportunity to get. It is important to assure them that lack of familiarity with technology is nothing bad and not a reason to lower self-esteem. It is normal.
Don’t get irritated when they don’t understand something
This is probably the hardest one. But think twice before you lose your nerves while explaining the difference between search bar and browser bar for the 138th time to you senior. It is not their fault and your irritation doesn’t bring any value in the learning process. No one ever learned faster because of having an angry teacher behind their back.
Be understanding for their stress
Stress is often a cover for frustration. Seniors get angry when they are not able to solve some technological problem. It leads to demotivation and grooving dislike for technology. Progressing technology use in everyday life is a real challenge for seniors. They are, for example, used to paper invoices delivered by post, not electronic ones distributed by email. What if they delete the email by accident? What if it gets to spam folder? What is spam folder? They were pushed to use digital documents instead of the one they know and like. How would you feel?
Learning new technology uses is definitely good for seniors. It not only prevents them from digital exclusion but also slows down dementia. The responsibility for bringing seniors to a digital age is on their children and grandchildren – us. Let’s make it as smooth, for everyone, as possible 😉