By Barbara Jolie
I’m a member of Generation Y, and even though I wasn’t born directly into the Internet age like my successors – Generation Z – were, I might as well have been. From the moment I could walk around my childhood home as a toddler, I always had access to a computer. Even to this day, I remember the annoying sound AOL would make as it dialed into the Internet and how exciting it was to be greeted by “You’ve Got Mail!” every time I successfully logged into my account.
Throughout my years of growing up, I educated myself about all the technological innovation and evolution that surrounded me. Yet as I was expanding my knowledge of technology, I couldn’t help but notice that individuals like my parents and grandparents weren’t. Why was that? Well, simply put, they weren’t born into the creative, innovative era I was. Their formative years were spent riding bikes and playing outside, while mine was spent immersed in technological evolution.
I used to wonder if it was a lost cause to try and teach older generations about the wonders of technology, but as I’ve witnessed my grandparents and parents slowly but surely adapt to technology, I’ve learned that is absolutely not the case. For those of you looking to educate members of older generations about various technological tools and tricks, here are three ideas on how to teach them.
Sign them up for classes
When my grandmother decided to purchase an iPad, I was worried about her. Not only did she know next to nothing about the device, she had never owned or used an Apple product before. One night as I saw her fidgeting with her iPad, my suspicions were confirmed – she didn’t have a clue what she was doing. The next day, I signed her up for Apple’s One to One classes so she could have an instructor teach her all about her new iPad. About a month later, I was shocked when my grandmother started showing me iPad tricks even I didn’t know. Oftentimes, the best way to educate an adult is to encourage them to seek out informal classes, helpful tutors, online classes, and self-teaching manuals. It should only take a few lessons to master the core skills, and once they have those, they can grow and build from there.
Don’t pressure or belittle them
Do you remember how pivotal it was when you were first learning to ride a bike or swim in the pool? More than likely, you had somebody by your side encouraging you every step of the way. Can you imagine how terrifying it would have been if your teacher was belittling you or growing frustrated with your slow pace during the process? Well, it’s no different for older generations that are learning about technology. Pressuring them or belittling them will not help them learn a darn thing. If anything, they’ll grow embarrassed or uncomfortable and want to give up. If they are struggling to understand a technological concept, stay patient with them and encourage them to keep pushing on. Even if it seems to take an eternity, they’ll eventually get down the concepts you’re teaching them as long as you are supportive and understanding.
Know their limits
Once somebody has learned a new trick, it’s important that they keep practicing what they’ve learned. However, older generations will usually end up utilizing technology as much as they need/want to. While younger generations may find endless uses for things like mobile banking, texting, Twitter, etc., many individuals from older generations have no use of them. Therefore, know where to draw the line in teaching them about technology. If they don’t want to learn something, please don’t make them. They’ll leverage technology as much as they want to, and the rest they’ll leave to everybody else. Be realistic in your goals because the last thing you want to do is frustrate them through the learning process.
The technological evolution that is taking place around us is astounding and should be something every generation can experience. If you’re looking to educate members of older generations about technology, utilize these three tips in your teaching endeavors.
Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She is passionate about lifelong learning and online education. When Barbara is not blogging about all things education, she enjoys spending time with her calico cat, Moses, and her pet parakeet. If you have questions email her at email@example.com.
Photo Courtesy of BigStock.