5 Reasons Why Seniors Should Embrace Technology – From a Technology Tutor.

Over the last two years, Students for Seniors (SFS) technology tutors have been helping their local elders become more technologically savvy. Many seniors want to learn how to navigate the increasingly diverse world of the internet, social media, and new technologies, but some are worried about the potentially negative impacts that embracing modern technology could have. Below is a list of top 5 reasons, observed first hand over 700 hours of tutoring, why it’s more than okay to embrace technology without fear. By the way, we strongly encourage you to voice your opinion on whether or not you agree with our list. Here it goes!

1. Communicating with family and friends

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As much as communication technology is often painted as a dividing force that is driving people apart by, among others, letting young’uns spend too much time glued to their screens and not enough time interacting face to face and developing social skills: it would be too myopic of us to just take that argument and use it to justify life completely off the grid. In fact, many of our clients have confirmed that learning to use email, Skype, Facebook, Aetonix, etc. has improved their social lives beyond measure.

Yes, spending too much time on a computer can lead to some negative outcomes. So can spending too much time at the pool or just sitting around all day, or anything done without moderation. Let’s realize that much like how the telephone revolutionized communication, social media is changing the way we spend our time interacting with people. And it’s far from being bad news.

2. Research, shopping, and gathering intelligence.

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If the Internet is like a gigantic library, then you need a doorway to access it. That’s your web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, etc.). You also need a librarian. That’s your search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.). Next come the books (websites). There is a reason a saved website or webpage is referred to as “bookmarked”… because websites are like books. They have web-pages, and
web-paragraphs. Well, not web-paragraphs, but you’re getting the idea!

That being said, having the worlds biggest, most up-to-date library with one of the smartest librarians at your fingertips can be both a superpower and a little overwhelming. At Students for Seniors, when we teach our clients to shop online, we’re really teaching them how to research what they want to buy. Very much the same way as you would research whether to buy your new vacuum cleaner at Sears, Walmart, or Canadian Tire; by going to each store and looking at the prices and specifications. You can do the same from the comfort of your home. The best part is that if you are afraid aren’t comfortable with filling out your credit card information online and purchasing your vacuum cleaner through your computer, you can still gather intelligence anonymously about which store has the best value product, at the lowest price, and then just go to that store physically and buy it. An added bonus is that previous purchasers of that product often rate their experience with the product and help you make a better, more informed decision before spending your money. 10 years ago, this was unheard of; it was buyer beware. Now we are.

 

3. Entertainment

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A record number of Canadians are opting to cut the cord from their traditional television service and turning to new alternatives. Personally, I only have unlimited internet at home and at the office. Almost everything I want to watch or listen to is available online, and whatever isn’t, becomes available within a week or two. There are countless free websites where one can watch videos, movies, TV shows, play games, listen to music, and do almost anything of interest, and all from the comfort of your home. All you have to learn is how to block or navigate through annoying advertisements.

With augmented reality (AR), soon you’ll forget all about Skype and be able to holo-port (AR teleportation) to see your loved ones as if they were in the room with you. You can already take part in one of history’s most viral phenomena: Pokémon Go.
I know, I lost you at “holoportation”, but just hear me out! If you want to be entertained, there is literally a plethora of avenues to take using the device on which you are currently reading this blog post. Just ask Google to find things related to your favourite topics and hobbies, and enjoy your day.

 

4. Legitimate, Publicly-Generated, Up to Date News.

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Also, not so legitimate, publicly-generated, up to date news. Wikipedia isn’t authoritative enough, as an encyclopedia, to carry weight when cited academically. It is nevertheless a great source of information that was put there with the combined effort of those seeking knowledge, that at least points in the right direction. The difficulty about the internet that differentiates it from a library 30 years ago, is that for a real book to have the privilege of being included in a library, it had to be put through lots of scrutiny between the writers, fact checkers, editors, publishers, and librarians, so you knew it was something worth reading. Even with these barriers, you can still find terrible books, right? Am I right?

Now imagine any Joe (Jane) Blow, without excluding myself, deciding to write a legitimate sounding article without any real education or expertise in the subject. The internet enables him/her to instantaneously reach any other Jane (Joe) Blow who is ready to immediately accept what he/she read as fact. Well, it’s happening all over the world, so you mustn’t believe everything you read on the internet. But with very little effort, through the eye of the smartphone, the whole world can see a tragedy unfold uncensored  live or share a beautiful moment between a grand-mother and her new grand-daughter. The sky is the limit!

Getting back to news. Why not follow credible sources of news and get notifications about events that matter to you, in one place, as they happen? it’s possible and really, really useful!

 

5. Health Research and Self-Help

Lastly, but not leastly, the number one topic researched by seniors is health. With a computer, you are no longer only receiving information from a television screen, paid for by special interests. Instead, you’re telling your television screen (computer) what kind of things you are interested in. These things are often still sponsored, but they are more personalized to your interests rather than theirs’.
Now, rather than googling symptoms and overreacting about a self-diagnosed ailment that you most likely don’t have, you can be proactive about your health.

There are ways to delay some of the realities that accompany old age. My grandpa, 81, swears by his morning puzzle games.

“[Puzzles keep my head on straight. When I don’t play my puzzle games, I feel like I forget more often.]”

– Grandpa Kazarian

There are other resource websites like Skillfull Seniors, Google Scholar, and many others that want to help you navigate the cyber world safely.

So, shed that ageist stereotype, pickup a mouse, and indulge yourself in exploring the human experience, from the comfort of your home, wisely and unfettered.

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Let us know what you think of our list. Maybe we missed a few points or maybe you don’t agree with us. We’re waiting to hear from you!

By Haik Kazarian, 14-07-2016