…don’t ask your kids”
Recently we heard about a 75-year-old woman whose daughter had become impatient with her after several exasperating go-arounds of a “how to” on her iPhone.
Daughter: “Mom, I’ve showed you this several times already, it’s not that hard.”
Mom: “Remember sweetheart, I taught you how to use a spoon.”
While this broke the tension of the moment, deep frustration often results for both parties when those who grew up with smartphones and tablets try to teach those who grew up with dial telephones and cursive handwriting. And it’s nobody’s fault, really.
We frequently hear from seniors whose adult children have been trying to help them with their electronic devices, and who feel frustrated and incapable. “I feel so stupid” are the first words we sometimes hear when a senior arrives for help at at the local senior center or at one of our classes.
At the same time we hear from their sons and daughters who are at wits’ end because their elders “just don’t get it” and they don’t know what to do next.
So challenging and common are these parent-child technology struggles that the Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled Want to get Tech Savvy? Don’t Ask your Kids! The article advises seniors to seek tech help from “neutral” third parties and to learn tech in the company of peers. We could not agree more.
So in this, our introductory article, we want to say to our fellow seniors:
First and foremost ~ You are not stupid! When you find a good (read: patient and understanding) teacher and the right learning environment, technology can be a thoroughly enjoyable adventure and challenge.
Don’t struggle with old, out-of-date computers and mobile devices that may have been passed along from well meaning family members. If possible, invest in an up-to-date device. Having witnessed seniors struggling with old, clunky or virus-prone computers, we echo this plea from the WSJ article: “If you no longer want that jittery old iPad, why would you expect your mom to have a quality experience with it?” (Adult children, are you listening?)
Do speak up when you don’t understand something or need to have it repeated, and expect to feel respected when you do.
Do be with other seniors when learning tech, because you will almost certainly discover that you are in very good company as a tech newbie. And you will almost certainly find both humor and support.