February 15, 2018

Five years ago….

My parents are from a generation that initially fought the technology revolution. They saw the smart phones, ipads, laptops and playstations as unnecessary and  causes of distraction that prevented their granchildren from playing kickball in the streets.

They were not shy with their dissapproving comments and opinions when the discussion of technology began around the holiday dinner table.

Fast forward to present day on the west coast of Florida….

After spending an energizing four days at FETC 2018, I went south to visit my parents. I looked forward to the concerts in the park, trips to the zoo and thrift store shopping with the aunts.

I also looked forward to the nightly tech help desk that I would set up at their kitchen table.

When I arrived at the over 55 community…  I entered a world where my parents and all their friends owned more devices than I did…

I am a tech director! No one should have more tech toys than I!

Jennifer Casa-Todd presented a session at FETC 2018  Social LEADia: Moving Students Beyond Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership”

While this outstanding presentation focused on students, Jennifer showed a video highlighting an older population learning technology for the first time.  It was uplifting and reflective of what I was experiencing with my parents and their friends.

There has been alot of research in the area of cyber-seniors. According to the Pew Research Center May 2017 Internet and Tech publication adults over the age of 65 are more connected than ever. 42% own smartphones, 53% use the internet, 32% own tablets, and 34% use social media.

While these numbers are lower than the under 65  age group, they reflect the desire of the 65+ group to connect with each other, share ideas and media, and to “google” the heck out of the internet.

Not focusing on the fact that I had to tell my parents to put away their devices at Panera, their tech use reinforces my belief that you are never too old to learn.

The Eileen Florida Tech Help Desk was busier than the Genuis Bar at an Apple store…… tag teaming parents requesting increased iCloud storage space, trouble shooting the syncing of multiple devices, convincing my dad that Alexa was not “big brother”  and resetting passwords that are recorded in a little notebook.

Dispute the need for wine at the end of every tech help session, the highlight of the tech desk experience for me was the excitement in my mother’s voice when learning new tech terminology….

She was so proud that she now knows how to change the Chrome settings using the snowman… access Google apps using the waffle…. go incognito using the hamburger.

I could not be prouder of my parents. While many children and grandchildren roll their eyes, giggle, and lose patience with the older generation when it comes to technology…

I am over the moon excited about the possibilities for my generation… The older adults in our lives are pioneers, role models and reflect the possibilities that lay ahead of us and future generations.

We all should set up tech help desks for anyone who wants to learn.

Prejudices and prejudgements should be left at the door..

We need to encourage all learners to get out of their comfort zone and stretch their metaphorical tech wings!

Side note:  I am negotiating with the Florida condo association for free condo use in exchange for free tech help..  Wish me luck!!