Too old for technology… NOT!


You are never too old to learn a new skill or hobby.

This winter, I had one of my computer students attempt to teach me to knit. Needless to say, I was dropping stitches, pulling the yarn too tight… it windowswas an absolute nightmare. I was frustrated that I could not master the simple skill of a basic knitting stitch. It definitely humbled me and made me think of how many of my students get frustrated in class with computers. Do I left click or right click? How many times do I click? It enlightened me to be more patient when the same student asks the same question over and over and over. The statement “I’m too old to learn” is hogwash!! Help is out there! I can attest, I love working with my senior citizen students more than any other demographic.

Many people, and not just Senior citizens, are commonly depicted as technophobic. The Merriam-Webster dictionary  defines a technophobe as “a person who fears, dislikes or avoids new technology”. Senior citizens are often left out of the loop when it comes to technology. All it takes is a little practice, persistence and patience to learn any new skill.  Just for the record I never did knit a sweater or become proficient with knitting needles. Maybe, I will try again next winter.

old_people

Negative computer myths addressed

When you really don’t know much about something it is normal to be scared or apprehensive. When it comes to Technology there is so much out there it can be overwhelming to anyone regardless of their proficiency or their age. There are a lot of negative myths out there that I hope to clear up for you.

Here are a few myth busting facts…

MYTH #1 – “I can’t even touch a computer because I just know that somehow I’ll end up breaking it”

FACT:  Well, guess what,  maybe if you threw it from the top of a 10 story building, yes that would definitely break it. However, it’s really difficult to break a computer… 9 times out of 10, shutting down you computer correctly and re-starting it cures most minor problems. Computers are pretty resilient, once you’ve learned the basics, they really are user friendly.

MYTH #2 – “I’m too old to learn all this stuff now, all this technology mumbo jumbo is just for young people”

FACT:  The fastest growing group of learners embracing technology are people over the age of 50. There’s so much to do and it’s a great way to keep in contact with all your friends and family, sharing photos, videos and finding friends you thought you’d lost touch with.


MYTH #3- “Computers and gadgets are just so expensive and I am on a fixed income”

FACT:  The price of computers has dramatically decreased. I recall the first computer I acquired was almost $2,000.00 back in 1990, and my first black and white laser printer was over $600.00! If you cannot afford a new computer system there are many quality used or refurbished systems out there as well. The price of technology is nowhere near what it used to be. You can get a brand new entry level system with everything you need for very little outlay.

MYTH #4 – “I have heard though that it isn’t safe online and you can get viruses and people can steal your personal information”

FACT:  Unfortunately, we live in a world where theft, deception and fraud sadly does occur, however, it is very much in the minority, and people usually go through life not being directly affected by any of it, the same is true for the Internet.

Despite the low risk of being a victim of Cyber Theft it is of course important to take measures to minimize security problems.

There are many safeguards computer users can employ to help eliminate online security risks, many of which are FREE. Plus, learning and practicing a few basic security protocols can limit the risk of exposure even further.

There are so many advantages to learning how to use technology for seniors.

elderly-people-on-computer

Computers, the Internet and technology enable you to…


  • Save Time & Money.  You can print out coupons, save wear & tear on your vehicle and have products shipped right to your door.
  • Stay informed
  • Be creative
  • Find work
  • Keep in touch with family/friends
  • Stay mentally active
  • Have fun

More and more people over the age of 50 are overcoming their technophobia and taking advantage of what today’s technology has to offer. What with computers becoming more affordable, and all of our libraries and many community centers offering FREE computer and internet access, there’s never been a better time to get online and connected.

Being computer literate is being able to sit down at a computer to complete tasks – and being able to work out problems yourself (even if you have to ask Google for help), as well as the ability to learn new computing skills. It doesn’t mean you have to be able to build a computer from scratch, code your own computer game or website, or set up a complex network – it means being more or less self-sufficient at the computer. Repeat after me…“GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND!” I cannot tell you how many times Google has saved me when I was not sure how to do something.

There’s a lot of self-help websites out there, and libraries full of books on the subject, so there’s no excuse for not knowing where to get help. I highly emailrecommend the books called “Teach yourself visually.”  They have a series for Windows 7, 8, and specific things you want to learn with colored photos and easy to understand language. Plus, of course, the DCT forum is always open whenever you need advice or assistance.

So, instead of ringing up your grandkids or your children every week asking the same questions, or putting your head in the sand when it comes to something new, why not help yourself?

Remember, age is just a number, unless of course you are a good bottle of wine or a block of cheese!  On that note… grabbing my crackers and glass of wine & making a toast to your success with Technology.

 

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About the Author

Sherri Meinke

A long-standing Computer Geek with over 25 years of experience. Having owned her first Apple IIe and moving on up the ranks with a multitude of Windows-based pc’s to her latest toy, a Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet with Windows 10. Sherri repairs, upgrades, and recycles computers as well as consults, trains & designs Websites. She is a Former AOL Community Leader and loves forums as well as online training. She created the "Camp Wired" computer training program at the Medina County Library system, 8 years ago. It is a free computer education program teaching technology in a relaxed atmosphere where students at all levels get to mentor other students and grow in their knowledge and understanding of technology. This program runs year round with no signs of slowing down.

16 Comments

  1. Excellent article Sherri.
    I deal with senior citizens very frequently. In fact their children buy them laptops or tablets to replace their ageing PC’s much of the time and before you know it, they’re on Skype or Youtube enjoying themselves.

  2. Thank you Marc. My late father had a computer and joined a widow/widowers chat room after my mom died. He became a Chat Room & Board moderator for their Forum. I was so proud of him. He loved his computer! I have people in my classes in their late 80’s that are a delight to teach. You are never too old!

  3. Time for an encore, excellent article Sherri. I know of a lady in her 80’s who uses the Internet to Skype with her grandchildren. When she first started about 3 years ago, she just used email. Not sure what else she uses the computer for, but this task keeps her young and fit, Mindblower!

    • Thank you Mindblower. There are so many resources out there especially for shut ins that do not drive anymore. I love seeing people get that “Aha” moment when they grasp a new skill. I also hate seeing this demographic taken advantage of by computer repair technicians. Hence I service a lot of their computers, often bartering when they want a tune up for cookies or fresh bread…

  4. What a delight to learn basic skills from you, Sherri. I did not realize how much I didn’t know in word and excel until I was separated from my job. Now, because of your class at the Library and this article, I have been obsessed with learning more. Thanks for your help.

    • I am so glad you joined us this week & look forward to joining you on your journey to learn as much as you can & keep reaching for the stars!

  5. I began as self-taught and learnt stuff out of necessity. Then I went to computer class and discovered there were different and better ways to do the same things.

    We went to a mixed class and there were senior citizens included who made good progress. On the other hand, my mother refuses to try, and my father struggles to understand some very basic concepts.

    Team Viewer is a tool I now use to assist two of my older relatives by accessing their computers remotely when they need help, rather than trying to drive over to their houses every time.

    Technophobic people cannot continue to resist as their is so much we’re being forced to online now. The banks, utility companies, passport and visa applications, income tax filing, etc. are all moving in that direction.

    • Anthony, I love TeamViewer. I use it to assist folks but never for a fee. Eventually folks will have to learn the basics or be left in the dust. Learning new things is often scary but once you acquire the skill….BAM it is just so awesome!

  6. I used to volunteer at a local adult education centre teaching seniors basic computers. The biggest problem I had was getting them past the “I don’t want to touch it because I might break it” stage, and convincing them that they could learn to use it. But that was about 10 years ago, when most seniors did not have access to a computer. I don’t think today’s seniors are that way.(After all, I’m a senior and my family and fiends all come to me with their computer questions).

    • I have taught at the local SeniorNet, the local Career Center & the past several years the library. I like the library the best as they give me free rign on the topics taught & how I teach the class. Mizdoc, move to Ohio & help me. You would be surprised the eclectic mix of folks I get. Some have no fear, others..I scratch my head & wonder why they come to class as I often catch them not doing what the class is doing just sitting in the lab checking their emails. arghhhh

      • Ah, but, Sherri, even learning to email is a bonus, because it keeps them in touch with family & friends. Imagine having your family half way across the country, or even the world, and the only contact you have is by mail. I remember. My Dad came to Canada from England and never went back. They wrote back and forth, and we sent food parcels over (during the wartime when food was limited). But to never see or talk to your brothers & sisters again? Today, you can email or even Skype, and see and speak to them. Isn’t progress marvellous? I was approached a few years later by a client who told me what it meant to her. So keep on teaching them how to email. You can’t imagine how grateful they are.

  7. My mom is 87 and is on her third PC, with a lot of help from yours truly. I will say that at her age with eye problems, everytime they “upgrade” or change a basic software she’s learned and gotten used to, the learning curve issue is VERY frustrating for her, but otherwise? She not only uses email, online shopping, reading news and books and Itunes regularly, she ENJOYS the feeling of accomplishment she has when she “solves” a problem without asking me and always calls to tell me about her triumph. In fact, I’d say that’s one of the BEST things about computers for older people–they may not be physically able to climb a mountain or run a marathon, or talented enough for art or other pursuits, but having a feeling of accomplishment and having conquered a challenge is important to wellbeing and self esteem, and doing that via daily use of a computer is something ANYone at ANYage can achieve.

  8. Sherri, excellent article! I am 71 and LOVE my computer(s). At age 53, I got my first computer and I was ready “dumb” about what to do. Thanks to a dear friend, he got me started on the path of discovery. The very first skill I learned, was how to deal with the mouse. He started me off, learning how to play solitaire. I can only say, learning that skill, helped me to understand how to right click and left click. My fingers became quite adapted using both fingers, independently. I didn’t use the internet, but, I learned about email and how it could open my world.

    My friend and I were having trouble with my dial-up internet component. I had the dreaded IBM Mwave Modem. A combination of sound card and modem, on one card!!! Well, this card gave me nothing but problems, right from the day I got my brand new computer. I learned, by myself, how to troubleshoot this lousy piece of equipment. I did a LOT of reading, bought many of the Dummie’s Books and simply learned. I upgraded my memory modules, all by myself. I was mighty proud, of that feat, too.

    What really drove me to learn how to repair computers, was this simple fact … Why should I spend hundreds of dollars, getting repairs that just aren’t fixed and motherboards that are blown, right as they are being replaced???!!! Yep, a repair tech, blew my motherboard. I decided, I could do all of that for FREE!!! That incident, made me built my own computer, from scratch. To date, I have built from scratch 12 computers, for me and family. I have done many repairs or tweakings, on family and friends computers.

    I have learned about security software and how important it is to update, all the time. I have also, learned the basics of networking, so that I can connect up a computer to a router, safely and with confidence. I have also, conquered the basics of Wi-Fi, though my grandson can always show me more, of what to do with my Smartphone. I know, what needs to be done with using and sharing my Wi-Fi with family and friends, when they come to visit, to save them data charges.

    The one thing that I stress, when learning how to do more, on your computer … READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS!!! It will save you time and energy, every time. Follow the Guide’s instructions for installing a new component. The Guides are there for a reason. It doesn’t hurt to review, what you already know. I learned that skill, when I worked as a Certified Surgical Technologist, for over 25 years.

    One thing, I would like to say … My mind is quite alert and clear, thanks to the computer! I haven’t built a new computer, in awhile … Not because, I can’t do it anymore, but, I have found that using off lease computers, are not only a lot cheaper, but, helps me to upgrade to the more up to date components and systems.

    Once again Sherri, excellent article and thank you, for caring to teach the older generation, some new tricks! YES … You CAN teach an old dog, new tricks!!!

    • Thank you for the encouragement. I love to teach and I let my students help me with the scheduling of classes. I like to treat it like a school year so in the end of August/September it is back to the Basics. I have people that have been coming for years because I never teach the same class twice the same way. I enjoy having some of the regular folks mentor the new folks that come to class. I have seen friendships formed, people get excited and earn certificates (thru gcflearnfree) and also seen students pass away (sigh).

      Many people get impatient with “newbies”. I remind myself that there are a lot of things that I cannot do well like cook, sew, knit…so if I can make a difference and help someone gain confidence then it is a win-win situation for everyone.

      Shucks wish you lived in Ohio you could work with me. I like your enthusiasm and your drive. I have built computers as well but am so busy teaching & other things that I stick to just repairing them these days.

      Thank you again, I am just getting my feet wet on things in here but have found my own comfy couch & settling in as long as this Forum will have me.

      • Thank you for the compliment. I would LOVE to work with you, as well.

        I honestly think, teaching is the foundation to being successful, in any adventure in life. Another thing, a good teacher is one who is willing to share all their knowledge, on any given subject, yet, always is willing to learn, from students, as well.

        I taught Surgical Tech students and thoroughly enjoyed that time, in my Surgical career. I also, love being a Certified Surgical Technologist, for over 25 years.