5 Resources for Seniors to Get More Comfortable Using the Web
The internet has become a huge part of how we all live our lives. Most people use it for a wide range of activities each day from paying bills to shopping to having video chats with family and friends. For most of us, it’s hard to imagine life without pulling up the internet at some point each day.
Resources for Seniors Using the Web
While 67% of seniors are already active internet users, that’s a smaller percentage than in most age groups, and the third of seniors that aren’t using it yet are missing out on a lot of the potential benefits.
As Tobey Gordon Dichter of Generations On Line puts it, when seniors start to access the internet “It has a profound impact, just the way it does for the rest of us. It’s convenience. It’s competence. It’s connections.”
Whether it’s being able to fill out government paperwork online instead of waiting in line at an office, making new connections on social media or Skyping grandkids, getting comfortable using the internet can change a senior’s life.
Yet many find it hard to just get started. “They perceive that it’s a ship that has already sailed,” says Tobey. If they haven’t figured it out by now, they assume it’s too late for them.
But it’s not. Seniors (and caregivers looking to nudge seniors in the right direction) can take advantage of a number of resources designed specifically to make it easier to learn the ropes – even if you need to start with the very basics:
1. Generations on Line
If getting to a class seems impractical, or if you’re a caregiver who just needs to figure out the best place to start with your senior loved one, Generations on Line has an app carefully designed to overcome many of the common objections seniors have to getting started and that makes learning the basics easy.
The “Easy Tablet Help for Seniors” app is available on both Android tablet and iPad devices. It’s designed for tablets specifically since the organization’s research shows that seniors find them easier to use than computers or smartphones. Once you load and open the app, the user will see very clear instructions on what to do next. It gives them the opportunity to dive in and start playing with what the technology has to offer, while following clear instructions that start at a basic level without being patronizing.
The lessons on the app cover the basics of learning to use a tablet, going on the web, using email and some extras like using apps or taking photos. It’s an easy way to get started that will speak right at a senior’s level and doesn’t require leaving the house.
2. Local Classes
For some seniors, it will be easiest to learn from a person that provides lessons on all the basics you need to know that will be there to answer questions you have. In many cities, you can find in-person classes in basic computer skills and internet literacy. Oasis Lifelong Adventure offers courses in a number of cities and SeniorNet has Learning Centers across the country that use the curriculum they’ve developed for teaching seniors about technology.
Local libraries frequently offer free computer classes to residents as well.
The best way to find out what’s in your area is by doing some browsing on Google. Obviously, for some of the seniors who could use these classes, that may be beyond their current skill set, so caregivers or family members should do some research to help out.
Meganga provides online tutorials on most of the main topics you’ll want to learn about to get comfortable with the web.
You can learn about how to use different internet browsers, using email and social media basics.
Their video tutorials may be a good supplement to some of the other resources here once a senior is familiar with the basics of getting online.
4. Online Courses
If you like the idea of a class but can’t make it to one in person, you can find a number of low-cost classes that cover computer basics online. Udemy has a few like “Computer Basics for Seniors,” “Mastering the Mac,” and “Using the Internet Securely.” These usually include a mix of videos and reading materials for you to review.
Make sure if you go this route that you go with a course that matches the technology you have – a course focused on Windows won’t help you if you have an Apple computer.
If you’re confused about how to sign up and get started with these, ask a caregiver or friend to be around to help you with the process.
BBC’s Webwise is a collection of videos that cover a range of important digital skills and internet issues. They answer questions like “How do I get email?” and provide tips for staying safe online.
While not as interactive as some of the other resources here, the content there lays out the basic information anyone getting familiar with the web for the first time needs to learn.
If you think you’re too old to figure out the internet, think again. Not only is it possible for you to learn all the basics you need within a matter of a few hours, but that time can transform your life. You’ll be able to reach family members more easily, see all the pictures people post on Facebook, and save yourself many errands that take up a lot of time now. It’s worth it and, with the right resources, it’s easy.