You have probably heard about the “digital divide”—the line between the technology communication haves and haves nots. Today, more seniors are using the internet and social media than ever before, but this population group still lags behind others, and this can mean that older adults are out of the loop when it comes to social connections and staying plugged in to today’s culture. How sad is it at family gatherings when everyone but Grandpa has seen all the year’s family photos on Facebook!
For some seniors, the cost of computers and smartphones is the barrier to adopting these modern technologies. But for most, a lack of knowledge is what stands in their way. Computers and the Internet can be very intimidating to those not raised with a monitor under their nose! Family members try to help, but just because you’re a great family caregiver doesn’t mean you have great digital pedagogical skills!
AARP has long recognized the value—and challenges—of digital literacy for older adults. Last year they launched a series of hands-on workshops in select cities through their AARP TEK program. AARP TEK (the “TEK” stands for Technology Education and Knowledge) participants learned skills to help them take advantage of technology for personal and professional goals.
Now, AARP has put AARP TEK online. Visit the AARP TEK Academy at aarptek.org to take advantage of these resources from your own home computer, smartphone or tablet. “With 37 million Americans not online, AARP TEK Academy is for anyone who wants to get the most out of their mobile devices, stay safe online and pursue online adult learning for professional development, healthy living, online money management, entertainment and much more,” said AARP Interim Vice President Anne Jacoby. “We have had strong success at our face-to-face TEK workshops in cities across the country as adults share stories of being able to stay in touch with family via social media, use technology to expand their business and learn new skills for job searches.”
The website includes a selection of easy-to-understand videos on topics such as social media, online safety, smartphones and other devices. While the tutorials are targeted for the over-50 population, younger people also will no doubt find helpful—and free—information on the site.