How to Help a Loved One Adapt to New Tech

As we age, it becomes more challenging to keep up with the changes occurring in technology. As society continues moving toward more digital solutions, keeping pace is even more difficult. Helping your loved ones adapt to the new digital landscape will take patience, attention, and a variety of resources. However, competence and confidence in using laptops and smartphones to complete daily tasks can significantly improve the lives of your loved ones. Follow the tips below to help teach your loved ones to keep up with changing technology.

7 Ways to Help Your Loved One Adapt to the Digital World

1. Stay Calm and Be Patient

Helping someone learn about technology they have never worked with can be complicated and confusing. It will require a time investment that is longer than you may think. It is important to remain calm and hide any frustrations, as technology has advanced quickly and is full of terms they may struggle to understand. By preparing ahead, you can save some time and confusion later. People will be better able to retain the information you provide when you can remain calm and relaxed. This will help you to hear the question correctly and to answer them in a clear manner.


2. Choose Your Words Carefully

Someone who uses a little modern technology or has learned as they go will not be comfortable with all of the language used when discussing technology. They will be unfamiliar even with words that seem simple to you, like the "mouse", "trackpad", "home screen", and "web browser". To help communicate the processes easily, use simple words that are familiar to them. If they find a word that seems to fit the thing you are talking about, using that term, such as "pointer" instead of "mouse" or "trackpad", can help build their confidence and help them remember.

Using some of the older terms that are no longer popular may help them to understand better. If they are struggling after you have explained, you can even label some things with a label maker or sticky notes to make it easier for them to learn the words they need.

3. Use Multiple Resources and Approaches

People learn best in methods that are familiar to them. Try a few different techniques to figure out what works best. YouTube videos are one way to encourage them to engage with technology in a simple way. You can let them play and then review what was covered in the video on their computer or phone.

If videos are not the best method or are not having the results you need, then books with images and step-by-step instructions can be helpful. They can be looked back at as needed and offer a resource to leave with your loved one when you go home. In addition, providing diagrams and images is an excellent way to help them learn their way around.

When showing the steps needed to use whichever device you are showing them, use the device and go slowly. It is important to repeat the entire process a few times, as repetition can reinforce the steps in the correct order. Having them do the task as well is imperative. When it is done a few times in a row, muscle memory can take effect and will help them when you are unavailable.

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4. Select Easy-to-Use Technology

There are many items that can do the things that everyone needs but are intended for those who need help with technology to use them easily. This includes cell phones with minimal buttons that are large and labeled with pictures for ease of use. Likewise, covering some of the buttons on a television remote or finding a universal remote that can be used on any device automatically and that has images for labels can make using the television or the streaming device simple.

Making technology easier to use and finding simple versions of the necessary devices can make it easier for them to learn and allow them to do more activities. Voice-activated devices are also popular for those who struggle with learning how to use technology. They can voice their needs, and the device will respond to them.

A larger screen will make it easier for them to see, so a tablet larger than a cell phone will be preferred for video calls. Likewise, using a computer with a full screen can be easier to see than a small tablet screen, making it better for them to replicate later. You can also use the settings to magnify the screen and make it easier to read and use.

Touch screens are often easier to use than devices that require a mouse, as they are intuitive, and the icons are easier to see than on another screen. This can allow them to access the function they are looking for, and they will have fewer pieces or accessories to misplace.

Ensure that each device, including cell phones and tablets, is placed in a solid case to protect it from falls and spills. This is important for any device but more critical for those who may not understand how fragile they are or are beginning to have issues with their joints and hands.

5. Start with Familiar Activities

When introducing your loved ones to the digital world, it's essential to build a bridge between their existing experiences and the new technology. Begin by identifying activities in their daily lives that have parallels in the digital realm. For instance, if they are accustomed to writing letters or notes, show them how to send emails. Explain that an email is like a digital letter, where they can type their message and send it instantly to someone anywhere in the world.

As another example, if they enjoy reading newspapers or magazines, introduce them to online news websites or e-magazines. Explain that these websites work similarly to physical newspapers but offer the advantage of instant updates and multimedia content. Connecting new concepts to familiar activities will help your loved ones feel more comfortable in the digital world.

6. Regularly Update Their Knowledge

As technology continues to evolve, it's important to keep your loved ones informed about new developments. Schedule regular sessions where you introduce them to new apps, features, or gadgets that align with their interests and needs. For instance, if a new video calling app with user-friendly features is released, teach them how to use it during your sessions. This approach also prevents them from feeling overwhelmed by sudden changes. 

7. Remote Assistance Tools

Remote assistance tools can be invaluable when it comes to troubleshooting issues or guiding your loved ones through tasks, even if you're not physically present. Platforms like TeamViewer, AnyDesk, or Zoom allow you to remotely access their device and provide real-time guidance. This can be particularly useful when they encounter technical challenges outside of your regular visits.

Before using these tools, ensure your loved ones are comfortable with the idea of remote assistance and understand the security measures in place. Walk them through the process step by step, showing them how to grant access and explaining that they can end the session anytime. This way, they'll feel more confident seeking help when needed, knowing that you can virtually assist them.

It is important for loved ones to know how to use technology to stay in contact with others and to remain active in the world around them. As technology becomes more advanced, there are ways to make it easier to use and teach loved ones how to use it. This will require 
patience, a willingness to use different approaches to find one that works for them, using queues and hints for when you aren't there, and finding easy-to-use versions of technology that they can learn on.

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