The Best Ways to Increase TechKnowledge for Older Adults

Technology provides us with the means to connect with our family, friends, and much more. It is how we remain safely at home and FaceTime a family member or order groceries delivered to our doorstep. The benefits are powerful for older adults: access to emergency services, staying connected with family and friends, keeping our brains active, and being able to remain comfortably at home.

The growth of technology (especially the adoption of smartphones and tablets) is increasing for older adults aged 65+. Even with the growth, many have not adopted a smartphone. According to a recent Pew Research survey, 29% of older adults aged 65+ had a cellphone but not a smartphone.

Pew Research Survey of Technology Use by Age Group

CellphoneSmartphoneCellphone
(not Smartphone)
Total97%85%11%
Men97%85%11%
Women98%85%12%
Ages 18-29100%96%4%
30-49100%95%5%
50-6497%83%12%
65+92%61%29%

The gap in usage indicates both positive growth and an opportunity to increase use. To do this, we need to consider both the benefits of technology, particularly for smartphones and tablets, as well as the best ways to teach older adults.

Benefits of Smartphones and Computers (Tablet and Laptop)

With a smartphone, your aging parent will have the ability to do all (if not just a few) of the following:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends: connect on social media, video calls, text messages
  • Keep your mind active with brain training apps
  • Explore the internet
  • Stay active on email
  • Manage your finances
  • Play fun games and remain engaged
  • Download and watch movies, news, and TV shows
  • Listen to the music of your preference and connect with Bluetooth speakers
  • Take and share photos for joy and memories
  • Shop easily online for household items and groceries

Top 10 Tips to Teach Your Aging Parent How to Increase TechKnowledge

Considering the best ways to teach technology for seniors to use, adopt and ultimately help them live independently is no easy task. Even for the most tech-savvy adult, the rapidly changing landscape is hard to keep up with. When teaching your aging parent, keep the following in mind:

  1. Exercise your patience! You need to take your time, allow questions, and don’t get frustrated
  2. Share the benefits in detail and adjust and tailor to their needs (make it about them)
  3. Educate them on free resources and available tools
  4. Don’t use jargon and confusing language
  5. Do it at their pace and in their environment
  6. Understand how they learn and prefer to learn (remember: you are teaching them, so teach! Don’t take over)
  7. Don’t be afraid to use pen and paper to take notes and write down ‘how-tos’
  8. Help them build their confidence
  9. Don’t forget to review safety and fraud
  10. Let them try it out!

Research Local Training Options

Explore your community for local training and instructors. Your library and local college and university may offer free resources and technology classes. For example, a university in Pennsylvania provides the following tech training for older adults:

The first hour will focus on a discussion of various technology scams. In the second hour, participants will work one-on-one with a Bloomsburg University student on a variety of technology skills, including social media, internet, and word processing, as well as presentation and spreadsheet applications. There will be PCs available for use by the participants. (source)

Next Steps

The increased adoption of technology among older adults will continue to be important. It is the way to remain connected, engaged, and enhance their well-being. In addition, it offers safety through available apps, GPS tracking, and much more.

Start the conversation today.

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