The coronavirus lockdown has grounded people of all ages around the world. The elderly too are confined to the home and can’t step out for their morning Yoga session or evening kirtan mandalis. While this relatively high-risk group has to stay at home, it is a fact that social distancing can also lead to anxiety and depression. This is where technology can help them connect better with their loved ones and find new, digital, pastimes.
Here are some tips on how to onboard seniors for some more digital life.
First, try to take some time out of your busy schedule to help your aging parents learn how to use a smartphone or laptop. For them, these devices are new and they lack the know-how or confidence. Some elderly people are hesitant to ask for help because they are unfamiliar with technology, so be patient in dealing with them and do not lose your temper. If you think you lack the patience or willingness to help, get someone else to teach them how to download apps on a phone or use WhatsApp to video call.
Do not go into explaining technical terms that are hard to remember. Instead stick to the basics like how to connect their smartphone or laptop to Wi-Fi, help them remember a Wi-Fi password or write the password on a piece of paper, how to turn on or off a router, how to download a file and transfer it to a pen drive or how to install an application on their phone. They are least interested in knowing about the processor or RAM of a device.
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Older people have difficulty in understanding written texts due to poor eyesight or unfamiliarity to a language. The best way to overcome their fears is to introduce them to YouTube. The platform offers a ton of videos, be it educational, devotional or just old classics. Guide them on how to discover new videos on the platform and share them on Facebook or WhatsApp.
Most of us use Google every day, but our parents are unfamiliar with the search engine. But once they know how to search a term or a topic, they might find the Google search useful for a lot of information.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, when everything is shut and there is no way to meet friends or relatives in-person, the best way to connect with your loved ones is through video calling. This might seem easy, but to make the elderly understand this could prove a challenge. Talk to them about the benefits of video calling, which apps to download, and show them how to make a video call. Help your parents practice what you’re teaching them and try to answer their questions. If they are unable to pick up, install the app on their device or send them instructions on how to use the app.
Now is the best time to explain to your elderly parents the importance of privacy. Once they start using Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail or e-payment apps like Paytm, online privacy becomes more important. They need to be aware of what they put out on Facebook and the potential dangers of sharing a bank password with anyone. When teaching seniors about using email, make sure you make them aware of phishing scams and email scams, which attempt to collect your personal information like bank account details and credit card information.
Disinformation and fake news are everywhere. Most misleading news and disinformation are spread via social media feeds that appear in your Facebook feed, WhatsApp groups, YouTube or Twitter timeline. The best advice you can give to your aging parents who are new to social media platforms is how to identify fake news and disinformation.