Older adults are adapting to technology at a slower rate compared to the overall population. To help older adults learn how to use technology, programs such as the University of Rhode Island (URI)’s Engaging Generations (E-GEN): Cyber Seniors® Program are providing support. A recent study from URI’s E-GEN program, published in the journal Gerontechnology, described areas of technology older adults were interested in learning to use.
For this study URI students went to senior centers throughout Rhode Island to teach older adults in mostly one-on-one settings how to use technology. The study found that many older adults needed help learning basic functions of their phones, tablets, and computers. This included: learning how to turn on and off devices and learning the functions of different buttons. Once older adults felt comfortable with completing these basic functions, this often led them to wanting to learn how to use the device for communicating with relatives and friends via text, email, and social media. Some also expressed interest in organizing documents and files, keeping track of passwords, and using their devices to keep track of appointments and reminders.
Many participants also wanted to use technology to take and manage photos, nourish hobbies, and professional development. URI’s E-GEN program is also assessing how college students teach older adults how to use technology as well as why older adults continued to participate in the program. URI’s E-GEN program and related research projects help provide valuable information to help older adults learn technology and examine outcomes of the program for students and older participants.