About this series: Our Duos have learned countless tips and tricks of the trade in our work supporting older adults and their caregivers. In these posts, we share our easy-to-follow guides for dealing with some of the most common aging navigation issues we encounter every day.
Do you ever feel “out of the loop” or overwhelmed when it comes to technology? Technology-based products and services are increasingly common, so we’ve pulled together some tips to help you feel more informed and empowered to navigate these experiences.
The internet and tech products have a language all their own. Here are some common terms you may encounter:
- Internet Browser - An Internet browser is a computer program that allows you to surf the Internet and visit websites. Common internet browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome, and at least one of these browsers is likely to come pre-installed on your device.
- Search Engine - A search engine is a website with a search bar that allows users to type in a word, phrase, or question, and get results from across the Internet. Commonly used search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- URL - URL stands for “uniform resource locator” which is the address of a web page (like https://www.getduos.com/ or https://www.google.com). The “https://” and “www” sections help your browser know which route to follow to get you to your destination; often, these will be dropped from a URL in print: getduos.com or google.com.
- Hyperlink - A hyperlink is text that you can click on that will bring you directly to a specific web page. It is usually underlined and often a different color.
- WiFi - WiFi (or Wifi) is short for “Wireless Fidelity” and refers to the wireless Internet connection many people use at home and at work to connect to the internet. You can connect to WiFi through a laptop, smart phone, or tablet. You can also connect to the internet via a “landline” or “hardline,” where a cable connects to your device.
- Apps - “Apps” is short for “applications,” which are software programs that perform a specific function directly for the user or, in some cases, for another application program.
- Sync - Syncing is the process of keeping information current across multiple devices or applications. If you want to have the same apps on your smartphone and your computer, or the same appointments on both your phone and computer calendar applications, then you may want to sync the two devices.
If you find you’re having trouble getting started with or feeling comfortable with a new technology service or device, here’s what we recommend:
Break it down and set SMART goals: Remember that you don't have to master everything all at once. Don’t rush; it’s better to set small, manageable goals. A good rule of thumb is to focus on just one device, program, or task at a time.
Use affirmations: Mastering new technologies has a learning curve, and it’s not always smooth sailing. You’re bound to hit roadblocks and get frustrated along the way. However, aim to keep a positive mindset! You can do this. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Take a class: If you’d prefer to learn in person, check with your local library, place of worship, senior center, community college, or employment center. Many of these places regularly offer no-cost or low-cost classes on basic computing. There are also a wide range of online resources including step-by-step instructions and video guides.
Ask someone for help: Do you have a tech-loving spouse, grandchild, or neighbor who always has the latest high-tech gadgets? Don't be afraid to ask them questions or request their assistance when you get stuck. Learning the basics from someone you know can make the experience less intimidating.
Strengths-based approach: Celebrate the small "wins” - you should be proud of yourself! Once you become skilled in one area, give yourself permission to learn something else. As you build your technology skills bit by bit, your confidence will grow.
If your local community center or library doesn’t have the resources you need, our Duos have also compiled a list of technology resources to assist with internet connectivity, devices, and tech support. Some of these programs will require out-of-pocket fees, so please check with the individual provider to confirm details.
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
ACP is a government-funded program that helps ensure that households can afford the technology they need for work, school, healthcare and more. For eligible households, the program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. You will need to contribute between $10-50 out-of-pocket toward the purchase price. A household is eligible for ACP if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household participates in a public assistance program such as SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veteran's pension.
PCs for People sells refurbished desktop and laptop computers to individuals enrolled in an income-based government assistance program or making below 200 percent of the poverty level.
Human-I-T Low Cost Devices & Digital Training
Human-I-T donates affordable tech devices to qualified low-income individuals and sells devices at a low-cost to individuals who do not meet income qualifications.
Apple Support Genius Bar (note: for Apple products only)