Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

Don’t underestimate seniors and technology

July 5, 2022

Back to the Future: Don’t underestimate seniors and technology

For this month’s theme, which I’m calling “Back to the Future,” we’re going to be discussing seniors and technology.

The more and more we advance, the more we’re moving towards everything digital. So navigating technology is an important subject for our seniors. I think there are three factors that often prevent seniors from using technology.

First, I think we underestimate seniors and their ability to get onto technology. Seniors continue to prove that they can adjust to the technology that’s evolving around them.

In 2019, half of older Americans bought a new technological device, including smartphones, laptops, smart home devices, tablets and smart TVs.

The Pew Research Center found that once seniors are connected to the Internet, getting online becomes part of their everyday habits. In fact, 75 percent of seniors who have an Internet connection report that they use the Internet daily.

The truth is computers, smartphones and smart devices are designed to be resilient. A wrong finger swipe may close an app, but it won’t ruin the tablet. Encourage the older adult in your life to fearlessly explore!

I would encourage people who have seniors in their life to not underestimate their ability to use technology.

That is important because the second factor that can stop someone is fear. Seniors underestimate themselves and what they can do with technology.

For example, my dad is very smart, and he’s very tech savvy. But I think he’s scared to make a mistake. Older adults who don’t frequently use technology often have that fear. They worry that what they don’t know could break the delicate device in their hands.

The truth is computers, smartphones and smart devices are designed to be resilient. A wrong finger swipe may close an app, but it won’t ruin the tablet. Encourage the older adult in your life to fearlessly explore!

The third factor that can stop a senior from getting started in technology is the desire to excel. A senior might see their granddaughter and their grandson quickly navigate an iPad and think that’s how they need to navigate it.

The truth is the smart device doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about a remote control, which has between 52 to 66 buttons. Typically, any one of us will be using only five buttons: channel up and down, the volume buttons and power.

You could look at a remote control and be overwhelmed. But ultimately, you just want to scroll through and find something you want to watch.

I think that principle applies to much of technology. If you can think it, the device can do it, and most likely it can do it in the way you’re thinking about it.

We have to encourage seniors to get involved in technology. In the weeks to come, we’ll be exploring the specifics of how.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in helping seniors with technology, check out our C.A.R.E. Tech volunteer programs.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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