As technology continues to evolve, staying up-to-date on current trends and security best practices can feel daunting—especially for seniors with less experience using tablets or other smart devices.

You might assume learning new tech skills will be complicated or take too long to master. But becoming a tech-savvy senior is easier than you think. In fact, there are plenty of ways to stay informed and take advantage of everything technology offers.

Become a Tech-Savvy Senior [in 5 Easy Steps]

With the right tools and resources, seniors can become tech and computer savvy. So get ready to unlock the benefits of going digital with a few simple tips and tricks.

Step One: Learn the Basics

There are several ways to connect to the internet: mobile, Wi-Fi, broadband, DSL, cable, satellite, dial-up, etc.

But to access the internet at home, you’ll need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a router to connect to the ISP. You can then use the broadband connection from the router to access the internet from your desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone simultaneously—and at much faster speeds.

Once you connect your device to a secured internet connection, you can start browsing the internet and accessing Web applications that allow you to connect to family and pique your interest!

Secured vs. Unsecured Connections [a quick reminder]

Home routers offer secure internet connections as they require password verification (i.e., a security encryption key). However, unsecured Wi-Fi connections are often standard in public areas. This may include coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, etc. Think popular areas where a business or building owner offers patrons public (i.e., free) Wi-Fi.

Though convenient, unsecured Wi-Fi connections leave you vulnerable to online hackers. Primarily, if you use a smart device to check your banking account information and emails or purchase products online, you could be at risk. Therefore, it’s best to use only secured connections when accessing the internet.

Step 2: Keep Your Android & iOS Apps Updated

Whether you own an Apple (iOS) or Android device, staying up to date on the latest versions of your apps is essential. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Updating your device’s software and applications will improve your online experience (e.g., access to updated features, removing bugs, increasing page speed, etc.).
  2. Updating your software increases its security and your privacy.

To put it simply, when a new version becomes available on your device, be sure to update it. Remember, newly released versions may have improved security patches that protect you from malicious activities and private data breaches.

Step 3: Connect with Family using Messaging Apps

Families can stay connected through popular messaging apps like GroupMe, WhatsApp, and Viber. Facebook Messenger is another option, as is Google Hangouts.

Using these apps, you, friends, and loved ones can stay updated with daily events and share funny gifs and photos in group chats. In addition, these platforms also offer the ability to send pictures, videos, and even play games together, creating an environment for meaningful collaborations across generations.

And if you’re looking for the right messaging tool, ask the grandkids for help! They may already be using one and can add your account to the group chat, so you can check in and stay connected.

Step 4: Discover the Perks of AI-Enabled Devices

AI technology is designed to make life easier and help you pursue your hobbies and interests. For example, smart headphones can amplify voices or filter out background noise, so you can enjoy streaming music or tuning into your favorite audiobook or podcast without interruption.

In addition, AI-enabled devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa, can help you set daily reminders and alarms or get weather reports and traffic updates. Other voice-command virtual assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Google Nest Hub, or Amazon’s Echo Show, can answer questions and provide information about products and services you’re interested in. The best part is you can connect with loved ones by asking your assistant to call them or start a video chat.

With such virtual capabilities, tech-savvy seniors can remain socially engaged and informed right from their living rooms.

Step 5: Explore Online Options for Daily Tasks

As more and more tasks become digitized, you can enjoy endless online options for shopping, banking, and other everyday activities.

For example, if your financial institution offers mobile banking, you can contact them to help you download their app and learn more about their mobile features and capabilities.

Mobile banking is a great way to check your account balances and notify your lender of any unusual activities. It also allows you to complete various tasks, such as paying bills and transferring money between accounts from the comfort of your home.

How Technology Can Help Seniors Beat Loneliness and Isolation

Though online communication is no substitute for in-person connection, it does permit us the benefit of hearing and seeing our friends and family from miles away.

Additionally, technology provides a unique opportunity for intergenerational activities. From younger generations teaching seniors how to use their smart devices to playing games online to sharing news, gifs, videos, and information, technology helps seniors become more active with their families and also find new social circles to engage with based on shared interests.

To learn more about the benefits of intergenerational activities, read our latest article.

Internet Security Tips & Best Practices

Before we go, we wanted to provide a few tips on how tech-savvy seniors can stay safe online.

  • Having strong and unique passwords.
  • Avoiding clicking on suspicious links or emails.
  • Downloading anti-virus software to help protect you from malware attacks.
  • Consider utilizing two-factor authentication when possible, which adds a layer of security to your accounts.
  • Ask for help.

This last tip is key! When in doubt, ask someone else you trust for support. At Sweetwater Retirement Community, for example, our residents know they can come to any staff member with questions or concerns, especially about their online security.

In fact, we offer classes that focus on teaching seniors technology best practices. This way they feel confident and in control of their online activities. We also help our residents set up their smart devices, such as Skype or Apple’s Facetime, so they can connect with friends and loved ones from anywhere in the privacy of their own apartment homes.

Get More Senior Living Resources

Remember, you can be tech savvy at any age! To find more resources on living your best senior life, browse our blog for helpful articles and tips.

And to learn more about how Sweetwater is supporting tech-savvy seniors with interactive classes and activities, we invite you to schedule an in-person tour to explore our community!