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Senior Citizens can rock technology!

I have done a lot of teaching in schools and enjoyed every minute of it, and I have also taught senior citizens how to use their digital devices. These are two very different experiences.

In a classroom I can be crazy, and I love that. I get to strut around making the children laugh and show them how using technology makes their brain strong. When I leave a classroom my heart is happy. When I teach senior citizens it is often one on one in their home (obviously a much quieter environment than a classroom), helping them get their email going on their phone or tablet and explaining why things are the way they are on their device. I use a lot of metaphors and I so often hear "Ahhhh, no one has explained it to me like that before! I understand now." Seeing the lightbulb go off in a student or an adult gives me the same amount of joy! ...and when I leave their house my heart is also happy.

There is such a need for the older generation to feel empowered by technology. The world has moved so fast that they often feel as though they have been left behind and missed the boat, but I help them not only catch that boat, but start steering the ship. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the different things that happen today in the digital world and there is a fear of it being out of their reach, but with patience and step by step instructions at their own pace I always leave them with a smile on their face. Understanding the basics of technology opens up so much of the world we live in, and as a younger generation we don't always empathise with what it must be like. I've had a couple of visits with people who have said that they were retiring just as the internet was beginning and computers were being seen as an everyday thing, and if they had stayed in the workforce they would have learned just like most of us but they didn't get that opportunity. It's not their fault, it's just that the digital world has moved so fast.

Some folks get their children or grandchildren to show them how to do something, which sometimes helps but I know that when families try to teach each other all sorts of frustrations get in the way! I remember teaching my then teenagers how to complete their homework or assignment and it always ended in tears. For any teacher, the hardest people to teach are their own children. We are emotionally connected to them and that brings up other issues. Have you ever tried to tell your children something and they ignore you, but if someone else says the same thing it is suddenly a great idea? It's the same for anybody. It is usually much more effective if taught by someone outside their family.

If you have someone older in your family, include them in your technology but do it at a very slow pace. We have all sorts of prior knowledge that we can build on but many retirees don't have that so need to start at the very beginning. Sometimes it can be hard to know what that very beginning is because you have learned it while young and you have assimilated that knowledge easily. This is also the problem with the people in phone shops, they try to help but are quite young themselves so don't have any idea of what life was like before technology and aren't able to explain it in a way that is meaningful to the older generation, making the poor new phone owners feeling very inadequate and confused. This doesn't need to happen, teach our precious grandparents. If they are not interested it is probably because of the overwhelm, so baby steps. And of course, call me if there is any way I can help. I can help over Zoom calls or Facetime and talk them through how to do a task or use an app or programme. Empowering someone is a beautiful thing to watch. Do it often.

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