Not everyone over five is a techno-wizard.
Nor is everyone over 50 a techno-lizard.
There are more than enough stereotypes flying around about the different generations and their relative tech-savviness or lack of technology know-how. So, no reason to add to those misperceptions. Instead, let’s consider what the boomer generation can learn from their grandkids.
Younger generations rarely have the voice of their elders nor are they taken as seriously. If you listen very carefully, here is what you might hear from your grandchildren about technology. Or, maybe this is what they are thinking and would like to say to us, their parents and grandparents.
1. You can find the answer. Got a question about whether you can print from your smartphone? Google it! Want to know how to send a photo from your camera to someone else? Google it! Want to know how to text multiple people at once? Google it! Dying to know how to edit photos on your phone? Ok, you’ve got it, Google it! As ubiquitous as simple Google searches have become, doing at least a rudimentary search to ask AND receive answers about how technology works is essential. Of course you need to know how to evaluate the responses but at least searching online for answers to simple tech questions is the place to start. This also demonstrates that you are curious about your device(s) and will substantially increase your tech knowledge. (And others will be very impressed in what you know.) ›
2. Play with your device to find out how it works and what you can do with it. I know you want to know how everything works before you handle it. But sometimes you have to learn by trial and error. Let’s say you have a new smartphone. Not much of a user’s manual comes with it. Pick it up, look it over, go online for several articles on how to use your new smartphone. Try out some of the features you read about. Or watch a YouTube video where someone unboxes the same phone you just purchased and talks you through its features and use. Very helpful! But PLAY is the operative word. Try it out. Have someone who has a similar device show you around. And repeat after me, “I’m not going to break my new phone by trying it out. I’m not going to break my…”.
3. Be creative. Learn something new everyday and then teach me about it at least once each month! A new app. A new game. A new source of information about something I am interested in. Show me your creative side— if you blog, write poetry or plays, perform music, make movies or take photographs, or create newsletters, whatever it happens to be. I need adult models showing me how to do things with my technology that don’t involve texting my friends, sitting on Facebook, and otherwise surfing the internet. And I will do the same. I know there is a huge difference in being truly creative and just wasting time online, but sometime I need to see that in action. More on that later.
4. Keep learning. Please, don’t always ask me to help you when you are stuck. It isn’t that I don’t want to help, it’s just that sometimes it gets to be too much to solve every tech issue for my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and anyone else over 40! You must have a friend who knows her way around smartphones, computers, and the internet. Someone tech savvy and ready to answer a question or two. Or consider taking an adult ed class or an online class to learn some basics. And please, please read a bit about what is going on with technology. It isn’t like information is hard to find. I don’t expect you to be a cyber-geek, but referring to Facebook as “the Facebook” or “the face thing” drives me crazy.
5. More than tech. Yes, I spend lots of time with my technology but I also like to do other things—go to the movies, play golf, go hiking, ride my bike, or just sit around and talk. You know how you get annoyed when I always have my phone out and I’m paying attention to it and not the people around me? Well, not sure how to tell you this, but it works both ways. I really value your time and sometimes I need you to take the lead in suggesting we both put our devices away.
Ok, boomers and parents and grandparents. Let’s learn something from this excellent advice.
Which one of these tips will you start with?