5 Tips for Helping Boomers with Technology
I’ve done computer training in over-55 communities, and although it is sometimes frustrating, it is also rewarding. Most Boomers, especially those over seventy, have not embraced technology. They don’t like it and don’t trust it. On the other hand, they understand that they may be missing out on photos of their grandchildren and all the great information on the Web. They are caught at an intersection between a knowledge gap and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Points to Remember
Boomers grew up with typewriters; personal computers are a relatively late entry into their lives. A person born in 1946, the first of the “Boomer Years,” was thirty-six in 1982. The first Website went live in 1991 when these folks were forty-five. Concepts like CTRL P and operating systems have no context, no hook for them to grab. Computer language is as foreign to them as Tajik. When you say “operating system” they hear this: изоми амал. That’s important to understand when you’re explaining how to do something, especially if you’re doing it over the phone.
Boomers also face these issues:
- Many Boomers are frightened by the “data stolen” and “identities stolen” headlines. Throw in “ransomware” and “spam,” and it’s no wonder they are hesitant to go online.
- Most do not find using a computer or browsing the Web fun or interesting. They use a PC only for banking and Facebook. Most Boomers do not now, nor will they ever, have an interest in cataloging their albums or DVDs in Excel or exploring how to use a .txt file. Accept it.
- In general, I find older women are more hesitant than men. This generation grew up in the Fifties when technology was men’s domain. Several women have expressed that they “are afraid of breaking the computer” if they hit the wrong key.
- Physical limitations may also keep some folks from embracing technology. Using a mouse is second nature to most of us, but arthritic hands or wrists make it difficult and painful. Other barriers may be hearing impairments or low vision.
So what do you do if you are your parents’ (or grandparents’) Help Desk? When your father asks for the umpteenth time what to do with the doohicky you…