We Cannot Escape the Digital World

An event this week reminded me how important it is that Boomers and Seniors feel competent and confident with their digital devices. Let me explain…

I was approaching a stoplight when I looked out my window to see a looming gray pickup grill coming toward me out of a parking lot.  Fortunately, we were both moving slowly so the resulting impact did not cause major damage. However, I wanted it fixed.  I naively thought I just needed to notify my insurance company and they would follow through with the other company that insured the pickup truck diver.  NO.  It was me who had to deal with the company.  It wasn’t difficult, however, several of the steps required the use of my digital devices:

  1. Find a telephone number on the company’s website.  Often phone numbers are not in large print or easily found. My best bet turned out to go back to my internet search and look more closely at my choices. Navigating Google is not difficult for folks who use the internet regularly, but for someone who rarely ventures into cyberspace, it can be frustrating.
  2. The customer service rep at the insurance company was extremely helpful and quickly connected me to the person who would handle my claim–20th century technology (-:  His explanation was clear and easy to understand.
  3. Insurance companies now seem to prefer to handle claims online or via their specially designed app.  I had to download the app to my phone which entailed opening the Apple App Store and using my Apple ID and password. This step could also be confusing and/or frustrating for folks forgetting their Apple or Google passwords or who have never downloaded an app before. (And, yes there are lots of folks who have not.)
  4. Once signed into the app, I needed to use my phone camera to scan my VIN number and odometer reading, take pictures of my car and record a video so I could give a verbal explanation. Scanning, accepting an image, and following the app directions may be totally unfamiliar actions for a digital novice.

Think of the other everyday digital actions that have become second nature to most of us now:

  • Refilling a prescription
  • Confirming a dentist appointment
  • Ordering take-out
  • Paying bills
  • Retrieving voice messages
  • Sending an email
  • Sending a text
  • Downloading an app.
  • Zooming.

A question we all need to consider is “Do all of our loved ones feel confident navigating their digital world so they feel safe, connected, and empowered to take advantage of the myriad of opportunities available online?” If not, what are we going to do to help them gain those skills?

The best strategy is a hands-on learning approach with loads of patience on our part. Remember, it takes anywhere up to 30 practices for folks to internalize a new process. We cannot just show how to download an app at lightning speed and then walk away. Have your friend or loved one manipulate the device with your help.  Practice several times and then come back in a couple of days and repeat the lesson.

BoomerTECH Adventures’ mission is to help people develop their digital expertise. My experience with the fender-bender insurance process is just one example of how it is becoming nearly impossible to operate without some degree of digital comfort.  Families and friends also need to help their buddies and loved ones with these skills. For example, do all of your relatives know how to activate an emergency response on their phone if they are unable to dial 911?

One of your strategies might be to help the important folks in your life to familiarize themselves with BoomerTECH Adventures resources:

It may sound delightful to go off-grid and not have to deal with the digital world.  For most of us, however, there’s no escaping the digital world.  Let’s work together to ensure all of the special people in our lives feel confident and competent with their devices, the internet, and the cloud.

Jill Spencer

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