Over50 and Tech-Savvy 2: RU?

If you’re over 50 and don’t own at least a cell phone or a computer, this article is for you. Love it or hate it, technology helps you connect with friends, family and information no matter what age you are. You need to participate.

My significant other, a truck driver/owner by trade, was 58 years old when he finally touched a computer. He’s extremely mechanical and research-oriented, so I knew he would love it once he got his feet wet. Between myself and his son, however, he never felt the need to surf the Web himself; he would just ask one of us to do it for him. Until I told him “No.”

I spent a half hour teaching him how to do searches online. Within a couple of weeks, he was off and flying. Before I knew it, he had the computer apart and he was making comparisons between PCs and Macs and turbo-charging his laptop (you know those muscle car guys!). Now he streams 64-bit audio through his computer to his high-end tube sound system. I believe I have created a monster. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. He can’t believe it when he thinks of all the information that was there at his fingertips that he was missing out on and that he can now access anytime day or night.

Several of the recent retirees I worked with just learned computers in the workplace in their 50s. While it wasn’t always an easy transition for them, today they I-Chat, E-mail and interface with each other through FaceBook in order to cost-effectively maintain social relationships with friends who have moved out of the area. Technology has enabled them to stay connected.

If you are not on the Internet, you probably won’t be reading this blog, so I’m compelling you, the reader, to print this out and share it with your friends who need it most (you know who they are!) You will make sure they don’t get left behind and then you’ll be able to share special moments with them more easily in the future.

Step 1: Get a Computer & Learn to Surf the Internet

While sitting at the computer twelve hours a day may not be good for your health, learning to surf the Internet can give your brain a boost. A recent HealthNews study shows “older adults who learn to search for information online experience a surge of activity in key decision-making and reasoning centers of the brain.”

So how do you get started?

• Buy an inexpensive computer or get a friend to give you one of their old ones. You can buy very basic computers now that are just for looking things up on the Web and sending emails to your friends, and unless you plan on going back into business, this is all you will ever need. Purchasing an iPad is another option that many people are taking advantage of if they just want basic options and they’d like to take it with them. iPads will generally cost you more.

• Sign up for basic Hi-Speed Internet service through your telephone company or cable company, and connect the service to your computer. I don’t recommend using dial-up as it is usually too slow and we want this to be a fun experience. If you are going the iPad route, discuss wireless options with Apple. They have a very helpful Genius Bar. Whether you choose Hi-Speed, 3G or 4G, there will be a monthly fee.

• Once you are online, your tech support can assist you with logging on and establishing an email account whenever you are ready to begin exchanging emails with others.

• I recommend having a friend help you with the initial setup and basic search practice so your computer doesn’t sit in the corner collecting dust.

With these steps in place, you’re ready to go. Explore and search and have fun. More importantly, see what’s going on in the world.

And If You’d Like to Go to Cell….Step 2

Your next most important step will be to get a cell phone if you don’t have one. It can be basic; most people don’t NEED smart phones. Try to get a phone that has a screen that is easy to read, numbers that are big enough to read and push, and that has the ability to program a few numbers you use all the time. Keep it simple and inexpensive, and you will reap the majority of the benefits for a fraction of the cost.

And if cost is a factor (and when isn’t it these days?) most phone companies offer you major discounts for bundling their services. That means that f you are now getting phone service, High-Speed DSL and mobile service from the same carrier, you should be able to qualify for a less expensive bundled package. The other benefit is that the carrier will compile all of the charges onto one monthly statement for you, a real time saver!

You are now connected wherever you are, and ready in the case of an emergency!

Are there other questions or challenges you’re having with technology you’d like resolved? Add your comment here and we’ll put it to the group.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Over50 and Tech-Savvy 2: RU?”
  1. Phil says:

    I tried a smartphone for accessing the web and found that I much prefer searching the web on my computer. I really only need a simple cheap cellphone with big keys that is easy to use. I found the SVC tracfone which is exactly that. It only cost $15 to buy and it is prepaid so I buy minutes as I need them. This is a great cellphone ssolution.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for sharing the great tip, Phil. I know my brother uses a prepaid phone with cumulative minutes and he saves so much money per year doing that. And I’m with you regarding searching on a smart phone versus on a full-screen computer. Personally, an iPad, which I don’t have, is the smallest screen that I believe one can comfortably search on.

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