Remember when you were a kid, and you got the latest toy? Remember how excited and intrigued you were, even if you didn't know how to use it? Probably you just started fooling around with it, or maybe you read the instructions or asked your friends for help.
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The world is changing so fast. But the rapid changes in technology can be a little intimidating. Just when you think you've got something figured out, it changes. The cognitive changes that often come with aging make it even more difficult to keep up. You may be finding it more difficult to read the small print, hear synthetic speech clearly, or type. However, overcoming your fear of technology is important in today's world. Technology offers great benefits, such as keeping in touch with loved ones by video chatting, using fitness tracking to improve your health, or harnessing voice commands, motion sensors, and smart lighting to keep you safe and comfortable at home. Here are four tips to help you overcome your technophobia.
1. Ask a relative or friend
Many of us are introduced to new technology by our children, grandchildren, or friends. You may feel bad about asking for help from a young person, but remember, you probably taught this person to read, or tie his shoes, so don't feel embarrassed about admitting you don't know how to use your new device. There are many people who are willing to answer questions or help you get started. Asking for help from someone you are comfortable with can be a good place to start. If you don't have anyone to ask, go back to the store. Make a list of questions as you encounter them and keep going back to the store. They want you to be happy with your purchase.
2. Take a Class
There are many classes designed to help people learn about new technologies. Many of these are specifically geared towards seniors. Check your local community center, community colleges, library or senior center. Taking a class is also an opportunity to meet new people who have the same interest. Some companies offer free tech support. Others, such as Apple, offer tutorials that range from basic to advanced for a fee. Or you can check websites such as www.seniornet.org, or www.senior-surf.org for tips and information.
3. Teach yourself
Before you call for help, explore on your own. Give your device a test run. Click or double-click, drag icons around and get a feel for what everything does. If there is something you would like your device to do, such as find your car, search for an app that does it. Then download it and learn how to use it. Or you can go to an electronics store and try out a fitness tracker or other device.
You may be afraid of making a serious mistake, or losing important data, but if you run into problems, you can always ask for help later. Either way, persistence is important. Don't become frustrated and leave your new toy to gather dust. Make friends with it.
You should also learn how to restore your system, an easy program that will bring your computer right back to where it was before you made a mistake. If you are using Windows, take a look at system restore. If something's just not working, try rebooting. This means that you power your device off. In many cases, when you turn it back on, the problem is solved!
4. Search for specific skills
You don't have to become a technological wizard to reap the benefits of technology. What skills would you like to learn? What would make your life easier or more fun? You may want to purchase a device that allows you to stream movies or binge-watch entire seasons of television. Maybe you want to organize your photos and share them with relatives who are far away. Video chatting allows you to not only talk with your loved ones but to see their homes or listen to a grandchild's recital. Even virtual reality, which may seem daunting at first, is fun and a great way to experience armchair traveling all over the world. The possibilities are truly endless.
You don't have to keep up with each new form of technology constantly, but it is here to stay. With a little effort, you can learn some useful skills, challenge your brain and improve your life in surprising ways.