How to teach your grandparents on internet usage?

Seniors using technology

According to the Eurostat’s data on Internet usage, in 2016, close to half of all people between 55 and 74 years of age used the Internet on average at least once a week, in the 27 countries of the European Union. Internet and social media enable older people to stay connected with family and friends and provide new possibilities to be active and engaged through hobbies and other leisure activities. In addition, older people use ICT for buying and selling purposes, sending free messages, participating in online forums, listening to radio online and reading newspapers.

Older people as learners, younger people as teachers

Age is not a barrier – learning ability is preserved throughout life. However, older people are concerned about learning possibilities, such as lack of support during the learning process, ambiguous teaching instructions during computer training courses, unfamiliarity of ICT concepts, and too fast-paced instructions.
In the learning process of older people, age-related issues need to be considered to ensure an effective way of learning how to use technology. Learning may be more difficult if the memory has weakened. Working memory, for the short-term maintenance and manipulation of information, and episodic memory, for remembering personally experienced events, are the types of memory mostly affected by ageing. In addition, age-related changes in sensory capacity, such as hearing and vision, may impact learning, and require additional aids to enable and facilitate learning.
Despite the cognitive and sensory changes, older people can learn new things. However, there are things worth considering when teaching an older person. Younger people, who are used to different digital devices and solutions, benefit from acknowledging the age-related aspects of older people as learners and users of technology. This guide, along with the Pedagogical Tips for Teaching Technology to Seniors Animation, aims at narrowing the gap between seniors and younger people and providing guidance on how to teach technology to seniors.

Tips for teaching technology to seniors

The most important thing is that the person you are teaching wants to learn. Internet offers many benefits for seniors, such as staying in contact with family and friends by email and on social media, taking care of everyday matters through online services and searching for information.

boy teaching grandma on internet usage







Consider the following when teaching a senior:

1.    BE CALM
It is important to stay calm. Young persons, who have grown up with technology, are more used to different devices, programmes and quick access to information. Take your time and find a calm place. Keep sessions short, since learning can be slow and challenging.

2.    BE CLEAR
Speak clearly and loud enough. Use concrete and familiar examples. Seniors may not speak such fluent English and foreign words may be hard for them. Try to explain things with your native language using everyday words. It is important that you know yourself what you are teaching. Go through and learn things before teaching them.

Learning by doing is more effective and gives you an opportunity to check for understanding. It is easier to remember things when you do them yourself.

4.    ENJOY
Respect the person whom you are teaching. What is easy for you may be difficult for others. Encourage and celebrate all achievements. Stay positive and enjoy the time you spend together.
Have a nice time together!

Golden rules for teaching smart seniors

1. Be patient: learning takes more time and effort when you are older, don’t lose your temper.

2. Be calm: use a calm voice to explain, don’t create unnecessary panic, speak slowly enough.

3. Be supportive: it may take more than one or two trials before learning how to use something new.

4. Choose a quiet space without disturbances.

5. Take time: ensure that you have enough time to teach things properly.

6. Keep it simple: use common words, not slang nor too complicated terms.

7. Focus on one thing at a time: don’t complicate learning by concentrating on many things at the same time.

8. Use an audible voice; speak clearly and make sure you are understood.

9. Do your homework first: ask what the concrete goals for learning are, and make sure that you have the needed skills and knowledge yourself.

10. Repeat: repeat as many times as possible.

11. Check what has been learnt: make questions, practice and ask to see what has been learnt.

12. Respect: don’t be arrogant and condescending.

13. Keep an open mind: don’t be judgmental and underestimate anyone’s abilities.

14. Be flexible: it may take some time and effort to learn new things.

15. Keep the learning sessions short enough: learning takes time.

16. Be kind!

17. Be polite!

18. Have fun: enjoy the time you spend together!