Learning tech when you’re older

COVID-19 has presented some of us with an opportunity*. Time at home in isolation means we can do all the things we never seemed to get around to – mending those jeans, doing a spot of painting and planting a herb garden. For people comfortable with technology, we’re able to stay in touch with our family and friends using our phones and our laptops and computers. We can even watch TV with friends using streaming apps like Netflix. But for some, the prospect of this is out of reach or just plain scary.

The stories we’ve been hearing though show the possibilities when access to technology is created or encouraged. One friend, in her 80s, is using Facebook Messenger for a catch up drink with a friend in another state. Despite having had access to this technology for some time, the current situation has somehow made this activity more needed. Somehow more urgent. Another friend has been receiving a meme stream from his mother, a heretofore unheard of occurrence!

If you want to know more about ways to connect with others via technology, we’ve collected some good resources that can take you (or others) on a step-by-step learning journey.

  1. Be Connected is an Australia wide initiative empowering all Australians to thrive in a digital world. There are free online learning resources and a network of community partners who offer support so you can develop your digital skills and confidence. The courses start with the very basics for Apple and PC computers and Apple/Android phones as well as ones on video calling, safety, passwords and a whole lot more.
  2. Telstra – Tech Savvy Seniors is a program that gives older people, particularly those in regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence to use technology for socialising, accessing important services or conducting personal business. The online courses include videos on a stack of topics – even help with your home phone (how to extend the ringing time!) and security and email programs and more!
  3. Likewise BT (similar to Telstra but in the UK) has some great resources aimed at getting older people online. Their resources also include specific advice for helpers and carers.
  4. If you’re a bit more advanced and want to extend your learning, then U3A Online could be what you’re looking for! U3A Online provides short courses for older people who enjoy learning when and where they choose. The courses are open to all older people, or younger disabled people, anywhere in the world. They are especially suited to older members of the community who are isolated!

Of course, if you don’t have access to a phone or tablet or computer, then the courses aren’t much use. We’re currently working to pull together a tech donate program that connects vulnerable and isolated people in need with technology during this time, but in the meantime there are organisations out there that can assist. If you’re looking to donate tech to people in need, check out Give Now or Givit. Both these organisations connect people with donations that make a difference.

Get in touch or comment if you know of more programs that can help improve connection while we’re all isolating. The more we can help people feel less lonely and alone, the easier this time will be.

Ok ok one last meme!

*Not to downplay the impact for those who have lost their livelihoods and are wondering how to house and feed themselves and their families. The Ageing Revolution is working on a tech donate program – more news coming soon

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