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5 Tips to Help Our 55+ Generation Navigate Their New Holiday Tech Gadgets

By Anthony Cirillo January 03, 2022 Lifestyle

Each chapter of the Covid pandemic has driven usage of personal digital technology and services among older generations to all-time highs. But as users become increasingly more dependent on tech to break from isolation, the digital divide between those ‘comfortable with’ and those ‘new to’ technology becomes increasingly more apparent.

While some view touch screens and products like Netflix as intuitive, many regularly face steep learning curves. Getting comfortable with tech today no doubt pays dividends tomorrow, to decrease the anxiety for those less familiar with technology, while getting them to use technology more frequently, be sure not to abandon them after gifting them a new gadget or gizmo. 

Whether it be a smartphone for mom, a Bluetooth® speaker for dad, or a Netflix subscription gift card from a niece – technology is now regularly stuffed into stockings and slid under trees. Many of us will have received a tech gift from a younger loved one this past holiday season, or been convinced ourselves to take advantage of a great deal or steep discount advertised on a product slightly out of our comfort zone.

The key with starting anything new is to make sure to have the right foundation, especially to become tech ready. If a loved one has already had a few weeks of frustration with that new device, here are a few tips to reset the foundation, and get them ready to get the most out of the digital world.

5 Tips for Navigating Your Gadgets 

I spoke with Ryan Greene, CEO of Go Go Quincy about tips to decrease the technology divide.

Familiarizing Proper Vocabulary

Spend a few minutes defining some of the features, details and actions of each product and service. Explain what an application (or ‘App’) is, how to swipe, where tabs for ‘accessibility’ and ‘settings’ can be found, which is the ‘Home Button’ and what are the differences between clicking it once and clicking it twice, etc.

A written key or ‘cheat sheet’ of phrases can often be helpful as a resource. Your loved one will be much more effective at describing their inevitable challenges if they understand some of the terminology. 

Screenshare Assistance

Screenshare products are helpful for giving and receiving support from trusted friends and family. For those who might benefit from a little extra hand-holding or just not want to bother younger family members, services like are designed for pairing older-adults with vetted and empathetic helpers who can assist with things like using Netflix or setting up an iPad. 

Device Selection

When trying to decide the right device for a loved one, there is only one cardinal rule to follow: stay away from refurbished models (even if they are “like new”). The hardware and systems of these devices may not be compatible with current applications or software and can create untold headaches for all parties.

If it’s not too late, make sure the device they are using is compatible with the latest specifications with tools like Zoom. A tech savvy family member or empathetic helper might be helpful in determining the viability of the product being used. 

Texting or Back-up Email Address

No one remembers their passwords, regardless of age. To complicate things further, companies have increased the security features behind clicking ‘Forgot Password.’ Today, many companies use a form of two-factor authentication in which codes are sent to a phone via text to confirm identity and unlock programs.

Whenever setting-up a new device or service, if given a prompt for a second email address or mobile phone number, make sure to add the user’s basic contact information.

No matter one’s career trajectory or branch in the family tree, anyone is vulnerable to becoming a family’s designated tech support. In order to avoid overall confusion, use these five tips to decrease anxiety with a new device ‘introduced’ to the family this holiday season.

What gifts did you receive over the holidays? Any tech among them? Are you handling it well or do you need assistance? Who would you turn to if you need help with a new device?

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The Author

Anthony Cirillo is founder of Sage Stream, the Senior Entertainment/Education Network and president of The Aging Experience, which helps people and companies prepare for aging before it becomes a crisis. A health and aging expert, professional speaker, and media influencer, he is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives with a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania. Anthony serves as a Policy RoundTable member for Nationwide Financial and Bank of America.

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