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“See grandma? See?” | The challenge of supporting seniors to use technology

an AI-generated image of a grown daughter and mother each holding iPhones. The daughter looks frustrated, with a funny expression on her face. The mother looks angry.
*Midjourney prompt: A middle aged daughter who is exasperated as she tries to help her mother use an iphone. Mother is confused and frustrated, daughter shrugs

Today’s seniors are well-and-truly digital migrants.

Modern information and communication technology entered the scene later in their lives, after they were already grown adults. Some have migrated willingly. But for a huge portion of older individuals, their digital migration has been forced with many resisting, insisting they will not migrate. But it turns out the non-digital world they knew is disappearing daily. And unless we help them with this migration they’ll be left socially isolated and create a massive financial drag on societies.

The challenge of supporting seniors to use technology is great. Anyone with older parents or grandparents who are in this generation can sympathise with the bamboozlement we feel when they ask us for our help with their technology. For many their absence of understanding is so deep that they literally cannot understand what we tell them. Today’s electronics operate on so many layers of technological advents that we have to go four or five levels deep, spending an extraordinary amount of time just for them to have a foundational understanding.

So what happens 8 times out of 10 when seniors ask for help with tech? We layer them with a stream of jargon, take their phone and quickly do what they’ve asked about for them. Then we hand back their phone, “see grandma? See?”

No, grandma does not see. And in treating her this way we absolutely disrespect her. Just because no one has taken the time to explain to her the things we take for granted, she does not deserve our disgust.

And unless we take the time to teach her how to fish we leave her in no better a position than a pauper, hoping to find someone she can trust every time she needs helping replying to an email or making an appointment. And let’s just pray she somehow avoids becoming victim to online fraud!

OnRamp Academy stands by grandma, and all the digital migrants of her generation. We believe that this generation has lived through a unique and extraordinary time in history, and they deserve our compassion, not our ridicule. We also know that they are not beyond help. Many want to learn how to use technology. And for those who want to learn we know exactly how to help.


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