Helpful Tips for Learning New Technologies

Talking to Parents on Laptop



Technology can help you access important tools and information, manage your finances, reach your fitness goals, communicate with friends and family, entertain yourself, and much more. As the weather turns colder, more and more of us will nestle indoors to keep warm and cozy. This creates a great opportunity to learn something new! Whether you’re Zooming with family or playing word games on your tablet, we’ll show you some helpful tips to get you up to speed on the information highway!

1. Computer Tips

Computers let users access the internet, watch movies, read books and newspapers, play games, listen to music, video chat with people, go on social media websites, and more. Computers typically have a lot of storage space, so you can store photos, documents, music, and movies.

Here are some tips for using a computer and keeping it working properly:

  • Invest in Good Antivirus Software and Keep It Up to Date – This will help protect your computer from viruses that can damage it.
  • Change Settings to Read and See More Clearly – You can change settings such as font size, color contrast, and brightness to tailor your computer to your needs and preferences.
  • Don’t Keep Your Computer On – Your computer will need to perform occasional updates. It can’t do this if you leave it turned on all the time.
  • Keep It Charged – If you are working on a project, or watching a movie, it can be frustrating when your computer loses its battery power and shuts off.
  • Learn How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts – Learning how to use keyboard shortcuts can help make things easier and save you some time when performing certain common tasks.
  • Buy Computer Accessories for Seniors – Choose computer accessories that make the computer easier to use such as large print keyboards, typing aids, etc.

2. Phone and Tablet Tips

According to the AARP, smartphone adoption is at 62% for those 70 and older. (5) Phones and tablets offer many of the same functions as computers, but they are much more portable. They typically don’t have as much storage and can lack some abilities of a computer depending on what type you get. Phones are commonly used for texting, emailing, and calling people; using social media; and for navigation while traveling.

  • Add Family and Friends as Contacts – Add your family and friends to your contacts so their names will display on your caller ID.
  • Use a Captioned Telephone – If you have trouble hearing, use a captioned phone so that you can read the conversation on a screen.
  • Keep It Charged – Keep your phone charged so that you can use it whenever you need it.
  • Look for a Large Keyboard for Texting – A larger keyboard size and font will make typing and reading text messages easier.

3. Smart Television Tips

A smart television can access the internet, offering more viewing options. You can watch content on your larger tv screen rather than on a computer, tablet, or phone. You can subscribe to different services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and more to get your favorite programming. While most streaming services require you to pay for a subscription, you can also find free streaming services.

  • Hire Help – Depending on where you purchased your smart TV, set-up help may be available right from the store. Alternatively, there are many tech-savvy individuals or companies that you can hire to set up and/or connect all your devices and show you how it works.
  • Connect Your Smart Assistant or Phone – This will provide you with an easy way to control your smart television.
  • Figure Out What Content You Want – Research the movies and shows each streaming service offers before you subscribe to any.
  • Use It for Fitness – Download the YouTube app to find fitness videos for seniors so that you can follow exercise routines on your smart TV (provided this is approved by your doctor). Be sure to wear your medical alert device while you do.

4. Assistive Devices and Gadgets

There are also multiple devices that can improve your daily life and keep you safe while you age in place. According to the AARP, “Older individuals are particularly interested in using smart home and security tech to see who is at the front door (59%), to automatically shut off appliances (42%), to control a thermostat (38%), to detect a fall or get emergency help (39%), and to monitor doors and windows (48%).” (6)

  • Smart Assistants – Smart assistants, a form of software stored inside a device (examples are Google Home and Amazon Echo), can give you reminders, tell you the weather, answer questions, and control various appliances in your home. You can access their abilities by simply talking to them.
  • Lighting – Smart lights can be controlled via smart assistants or by apps on your phone. If you are at risk of falling, this technology can help keep you safe by controlling the lights from anywhere in your home.
  • Thermostat Controls – You can control your thermostat using smart assistants or your smart phone.
  • Security Cameras – Security cameras can help let you know who is on your property. By using an app on your phone, you can see and talk to whoever is near the camera.

Useful Apps for Seniors

An app is a software program that you use online or on your mobile devices.

  1. Social Media – Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn can keep you in touch with anyone in the world. Socialization helps keep the brain sharp and improve mood. ¾ of all adults ages 50 and older use social media on a regular basis, primarily Facebook, followed by YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (7)
  2. Zoom – Zoom is a video chat service that helps users socialize. You can video call family and friends to learn what is happening in their lives and tell them about your day. This became a very popular mode of communication during the pandemic, as those in isolation sought out ways to virtually visit their loved ones.
  3. Brain & Word Games – Brain and word games are another great way to keep your mind challenged and sharp. Keeping your brain healthy with brain training apps and word puzzles has even been shown to help reduce the risk of falling.
  4. Entertainment Apps – There are countless services that allow you to watch movies and listen to music. Some popular ones include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube.
  5. Budget and Finance Apps – If you need help managing your finances, investigate budgeting and financial apps for seniors. These apps can help you track your money, find discounts, manage bills and more.
  6. Medical Apps – Medical apps can help you track doctor’s appointments, find the best deals on medicine, and more.

Ready, Set, Go

If you’re ready to start integrating technology into your life, these technology tips can help you get started:

1. Don’t Be Afraid

Technology can be intimidating if you are not familiar with it, but being afraid of it can prevent you from realizing incredible opportunities. There are many ways in which technology can improve your life.

2. Be Open to It

The more open you are to learning, the more you will get out of it. You may hear negative things about technology from friends or the media, but you won’t know what it can do for you until you try. If you end up not liking something, you can simply stop using it. On the other hand, you may find that it can improve your life in a variety of ways.

3. Learn Its Value and What It Can Do for You

The first step in integrating technology into your life is coming to understand its value. While you can get by without it, technology can open a door full of new opportunities for you:

  • You can buy things to fulfill your wants and needs without leaving the house.
  • You can socialize and keep in touch with friends and family using your devices.
  • You can learn about almost anything you want in the digital universe.
  • You can access endless sources of entertainment.
  • You can manage financial, legal, and medical matters.
  • You can improve your safety while aging in place.

4. Ask for Help

If you are trying to use a new device or learn a new app or program, reach out for help. Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor if they can assist. If you know how to do a Google or YouTube search, you can also find plenty of answers, information, and tutorials online that may also be able to help you.

5. Take Notes

Whether you have someone teaching you or you keep learning through Google searches, you will likely find it helpful to take notes. Keep a notebook to write down what the icons for the apps or software you use look like, write down website addresses you need, and perhaps most importantly, write down all your username and password combinations.

6. Be Patient with Yourself

Learning a new skill takes time at any age. It is important to be patient with yourself as you learn new technology. Take the process one step at a time. If it helps, you can try to pace yourself by learning one new thing every day or at whatever pace works for you.

7. Learn How to Keep Yourself Safe Online

It’s important to guard your personal information when surfing the web.

  • Use strong passwords, write them down, and store them in a safe place.
  • Don’t give anyone your social security number.
  • Don’t click on links in suspicious emails.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it typically is.
  • Avoid buying things from websites that aren’t secure.
  • Read reviews before buying things.
  • Don’t click on suspicious pop-up ads.
  • Don’t put your personal information on websites, unless you are certain they are trustworthy.

There are endless ways technology can benefit seniors who are aging in place. Get started today and watch a whole new world open up to you!

1 AARP staff. April 2021. Technology & Innovation. AARP Press Room. Tech Usage Among Older Adults Skyrockets During Pandemic.

2 Twohig, Kelly. July 2021. Consumer Trends: Digital Seniors. Think with Google. Why Marketers’ Picture of Seniors is Getting Old.

3 Johnson, Joseph. April 2021. Internet Demographics and Use. Statista. Share of Adults in the United States Who Use the Internet in 2021, By Age Group.

4,5,6,7 Kakulla, Brittne Nelson. January 2020. Technology. AARP. Older Adults Keep Pace on Tech Usage.