Why do Seniors Hate Tech?

I have found in the past that every time that I have really angered one of my senior citizen students was not when I send them my bill after a class. It was during the class when I told them they are totally capable of learning how to use a computer, they just don’t want to. And do you really blame them? I don’t blame them…. I’m also paid to not put up with excuses. We just need to address why seniors hate tech.

I’m the nicest computer teacher who does not put up with excuses

So before you start thinking that I’m some cruel computer tutor who enjoys tormenting my students…I’m not. I totally believe in my students. At the same time aware of the limitations older students have vs some 16-year-old kid who seems to be born with computers. I approach each class with patience and understanding. I use techniques that ease a student into understanding not only what they are doing with a computer but why they are doing it. We just have to get past their excuses first. I may sound harsh in this blog post but really I’m a nice guy.

Excuses are speed bumps to learning.

Like a speed bump you just can’t ignore it. If you try to power through this your car is really not going to be happy with you. So part of how I teach a student is to address these learning speed bumps to get past them. Once we do it’s a smooth ride to mastering a computer.

What are the excuses?

Here are some of the reasons why seniors hate tech. I will talk about each of them. With all things this does not apply to everyone.

Excuse #1 : I’m too old to use computers

This is the most common reason why seniors hate tech. They just assume that it is too late to learn when it is not. Some of my students are some of the most brilliant people I have ever met, And learning a computer would honestly be the easiest thing they would have mastered in their life. I have found that it is not the age it is the attitude.

Yes, it does take longer to pick up a computer skill the older you are in life. I’m currently learning how to program in Python and it is not easy. It just takes me longer. And with that understanding, any Senior can learn how to use a computer.

Excuse #2 : I’m going to break it!

OK OK, this one is not their fault! In the earlier years of computers, it was very easy to break a computer. I remember in my computer classes in grade school. (More like educational video games like Oregon Trail ) The teacher would check to see if we had a magnetic belt buckle (That was popular at the time). Mis-typing a command would wipe a drive. but those days are gone but nobody told the seniors.

A lot of our media is filled with Techs complaining about how someone did something stupid with a computer. I have even seen one where a senior touched a keyboard with an old CRT monitor and caught on fire! That would have never happened in reality. However, if that left a lasting impression on me and I understand how computer work just thinks about someone who does not use a computer every day.

Oh, then you have the overprotective computer owner or IT guy who tells you 10 things you can’t do or you will break the computer. Nobody can keep track of those ten things all we remember is “You are going to break it”. This is yet another lasting impression that does not help anyone.

Truth is … These days it is hard to break a computer just by clicking a button. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and a few others got tired of being taken to court for these reasons. These days to break a computer would require a little more knowledge than the average computer user. Anytime that you are about to do something that you might regret it will ask “Are you sure” Part of the computer classes will talk about what to avoid when using a computer and the real risks when using a modern computer.

Excuse #3 : Kids were born with it!

Seniors Hate Tech
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I hear this one a lot. In fact, it will get a whole blog post on its own called error tolerance. Seniors hate tech often because they feel that their grandkids leaning how to use a computer so quickly is a sign that they are too old to learn when it is not. kids are just fearless.

Honestly watching kids use computers I have learned they are really bad … I mean really bad at using them. I have stories about the damage a child has done to a computer. However, if you are not someone who teaches computers all you see is the kid frantically clicking buttons to get to the game they like. Often people mistake the fearlessness for efficacy.

I will also tell you that my own children (now adults) are not good with computers either. They honestly never had an interest in learning how to use a computer beyond the basics.

Excuse #4: I would rather be doing something offline

Now there is something to be said about this one. I really do not see it as an excuse but a good attitude towards life. The best things in life are all offline! And this is coming from someone who loves computers. Hell, there are a lot of people who really need to learn this! However, some seniors feel that once you get on a computer you have no choice but to spend all your time on it. This is not true. But you do need to learn the basics as more and more public services are going online.

Excuse #5 : I do not want to learn something new

Yeah, I kind of get this one. Who wants to be spending days and weeks learning a new skill that they really do not enjoy. One of the reasons I have avoided taking that extra math class to understand my Python programming. (I’m not a fan of personally doing the math … I see its importance but that does not mean I enjoy it).

I totally get spending time doing the things you want vs having to learn a new skill. I also want to address the fact that being immersed in an environment where you are not Familiar is very uncomfortable. However, something to understand is that computers are easier to use now than they were 5 years ago. Every year computers get easier and easier to use. I would say it is safe to say that if you can use an iPhone you can use a computer. (For the basics )

The basics of using a computer 10-20 years ago are very different than they are now. Back then the basics would take a week of courses. These days the classes are simpler and much shorter. I can also safely say that you do not even need to know or want to know how to program.

Excuse #6 :There is nothing online but scammers and porn

Yes! There are a lot of bad places on the internet. We even give classes for seniors to avoid scams. However, the internet is not a bad place. It just has a few spots that need to be avoided. We have a few services to help seniors and children avoid the darker parts of the internet.

You can take classes on anything and often for free. Everything from how to cook to learning how to repair a vintage car. No matter what topic you are interested in there is an expert who is publishing free information.

My favourite example was a playwright who loved Shakespeare. She was really scared of the internet. She had heard so many bad stories from her friends. Until she found a historian in England (Who she met years ago) who had a blog about Shakespeare. They started a correspondence and began working on a play together.

Excuse #7: I hated using computers at work

I will often try to find out a student’s previous experience with computers. They almost always say “I used computers at work”. WOW, no wonder why you hate computers. Most software used for business is the worst for the user experience. I remember that the software I needed to use in the major tech company was a total nightmare. If you want to keep a four-year-old away from a computer have them use internal accounting software for 15 min. They will avoid computers for the rest of their life.

Saying that the software you used at work is the same as all the experiences with computers is like saying that the only wildlife in Australia is Kangaroos. It only a very tiny part of using a computer. (Though honestly, a Very angry kangaroo with a bad attitude is far more pleasant than some propriety work software no matter how well it was programmed)

Fear of failure

There is a lot of pressure in this world and nobody likes to fail at anything. I have to say it was one of the reasons why I was not very good at sports growing up. (There were other reasons too.). One of the things we do to help seniors get past the fear of failure while using tech is to make it ok to make mistakes.

Understanding this learning speed bumps any senior who wants to learn tech can safely learn how to basically use a computer or even become a high-end programmer. Once again. The most annoying thing about me is that I believe in my students. Seniors Hate Tech but only if they want to.

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