Taking the terror out of technology

Ross Alcock used to help people understand computers for a living. That has not changed in retirement.

The 78-year-old lives at VMCH retirement community Providence Village, in Bacchus Marsh, and residents there often turn to him when their gadgets break down.

Ross, who helped schools implement computer networks before he retired, sympathises with people who don’t understand computers.

He sees his fair share of seniors lose patience with technology and decide it is too hard for them.

“When you throw a computer at some older people – be it an iPad or a smart phone … there’s a bit of terror involved, terror of the unknown,” he says.

“They are scared they are going to break it.” 

He says many computer experts don’t take the time to properly explain computers to those that are new to them. Unlike the grandkids, many older people did not grow up with a computer in their homes and classrooms.

“Many people are good at fixing computers, but they’re hopeless at communicating. Old people find that particularly intimidating.”

“If they go to the grandkids they might fix it for them, but they haven’t learnt a thing.”

Seniors need to persist, Ross says. They have a lot more to gain than lose by giving computers a chance.

Ross uses humour and fun to remove the fear.

“Just ask Suri a few silly questions, that’s a bit of fun,” he said.

 “They realise here’s something they can talk to and have some fun with. It takes the fear out of it.”

He then shows them the great things they can get from their computers. Things like finding new recipes on the internet, online shopping, reading newspapers, paying bills, banking, keeping up with friends and family on social media.

“My attitude is just get into it. Just do it. If you avoid the delete key you are pretty safe,” he said.  

Tackle technology and win

Whether you love or fear the internet – you cannot deny that it has changed the world. Those that decide it is not for them risk missing out.

Here’s just a few things you can find on the information superhighway.

  • Email, instant messaging, webcam and Skype are all great ways to keep in touch with friends and family. They are also free.
  • Computer games can help you exercise your brain and again many games are free. You can find traditional favourites like chess or card games online. Impress the grandkids by taking them on in one of their favourite games.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can keep you connected to family and friends’ adventures. You can also keep them informed about what you are doing.  
  • Keep up to date with the world without leaving your home. Keep up with news, learn new recipes, and read your favourite magazines.  
  • Do you like a bargain? Internet shopping is a great way to find some great sales. Whether it is for clothes, food, travel or gifts – savvy retailers use the internet to advertise their best deals.
  • You can do your banking and pay bills online.
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