Five 'rules of thumb' for seniors & technology

Depending on who you talk to, everyone seems to have a different opinion about technology and how to use it effectively. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine what information is most useful for you. Let’s take a moment and make sure we understand the basics. There are a few common “rules of thumb” about using technology you should know to ensure you have a positive experience.

1. Technology will “mess up." At some point, even a brand new device will do something unexpected or an error might occur. It’s important for you to know that it wasn’t necessarily anything you did. Think of it like a hick-up. Don’t worry about it. If needed, simply restart your technology, whether it’s a laptop, cell phone, or e-reader, and your problem will likely be fixed.

2. You are faster than your technology. Take your time when using it. No need to rush. If you try to do things too quickly, you can sometimes confuse technology by making it try too hard. For instance, clicking on an icon over and over because you want Internet Explorer to open faster will require much more work from your computer, which will in fact make the process take even longer. People feel this way even about brand new technologies, so be sure to have patience with whatever device you’re using.

3. Technology slows down over time. No matter how well you take care of it, your laptop, iPod, or smart phone will eventually start to get slower. Things will start taking longer to do. Even within the first year of owning it. So, if you have an old computer, you can expect that the age of it directly influences the speed it can work at. This can be caused by a number of things, such as parts failing or not working at all. You should know that modern technologies are manufactured with an anticipated life span, which seems to be getting shorter as we continue to invent new devices. They don’t make them like they used to!

4. Don’t keep devices powered by batteries plugged in all the time. If you always plug your technology in, rarely using the battery, you slowly break your battery until it can no longer hold a charge at all. I’ve met dozens of people who keep their laptops and cell phones plugged in all the time. Over an extended period of doing this, perhaps a year or so, the battery no longer works, maybe lasting only a minute or two. Its good practice to charge any device to 100% and then use it on battery power until it’s almost out of juice. It will prolong the life of your device’s mobility.

5. Sign out of public computers. When you use a computer other than your own personal device, like at a retirement home computer lab or library, you should always remember to sign out of any web service you’ve used. Email, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter are all examples of web services you should never leave signed in. By doing so, you might enable the next person to use that computer to send an email as you or give them access to your private messages. By signing out, you prevent this from happening. It’s important, so don’t forget! Signing in and out of web services is and will continue to be standard, so we should all be thinking about it.

If you keep these points in mind, you will certainly have a better experience using technology. We shouldn’t let small technology problems keep us away from trying new things. Always remember that technology tries to make our lives better, so overcoming a few technical issues along the way is no big deal. Keep learning and keep practicing!