by Susan Murphy
People often look at my nephews in awe. At 9 and 12, they interact with technology as if the devices they use are extensions of themselves. They figure things out effortlessly, swiftly moving from one task to the next. And I’m sure anyone over the age of 30 has never been able to come close to beating them in MarioKart!
When I watch Digital Natives work with technology, it reminds me that a lot of this stuff is still so new to many of us. I’m in my forties, so I’m of one of the first generations that started using computers in school. I can remember learning BASIC, and my brother and I had a PONG game. In our house, my parents liked technology and we always had lots of different gadgets. My folks still enjoy technology – Mom has an iPhone and iPad, and Dad has a WordPress site and loves digital photo editing.
But for many adults these days, technology can be a bit of a mystery. It seems like there’s always something new coming out – we’re just getting used to our iPads and now there’s Google Glass? And don’t even get me started on the social media tools.
It can all be a bit overwhelming. But as a card-carrying Digital Immigrant, there are some things that have helped me navigate this world and really embrace technology and make it something I love. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Lose the Fear
I will never forget the first time I saw the Internet. It was 1996, and I was visiting my brother. I walked in the door and he said, “come up to the computer room I HAVE to show you something.” I rolled my eyes, and followed him up the stairs. We sat down and he tapped some things into the keyboard. Suddenly a dull grey screen appeared with some white text on it. He said, “See that?” I said, “Yes” and yawned. He said, “That page of text is coming from a computer in Germany.” My eyes opened wide, and my life has never been the same.
My brother showed me how to use a web browser and navigate links and pages. At first, I was terrified I’d do something wrong and break things. But after a while, I realized that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that trying and failing was the way to learn. If I stayed afraid to go near it, I’d never learn how to use it.
Stop being afraid of breaking things – the good news is, most online tools are set up to be foolproof. When you try something new, like signing up for a Twitter account or starting a blog, just take it slow. Read each screen and follow the steps. And if you mess something up, there’s always a way to delete. Don’t be afraid to try!
When I was first getting the hang of the whole Internet thing, I was fortunate to have my brother around. I could call him anytime and he was happy to walk me through stuff. He is really great at explaining things in a common-sense way. Eventually, I realized that a lot of the help I needed was already available online. Once Google came along, I was amazed at how I could simply ask it a question and it would bring back dozens of answers. Then social media hit and now I had a whole network full of people just like my brother who were happy to answer questions.
Even though I’ve been working with technology for all of my adult life, there are still plenty of times that I get stuck. But I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask questions. I usually ask Google first. If I don’t get satisfaction there, then I go out to my friends who might know. And if it’s a bigger puzzle, then I’ll seek out a training course or online seminar that can help.
The best way to learn to embrace technology is to first lose the fear. As you continue to experiment with new things you’ll gain confidence. And as you come across challenges, ask questions. The answers are out there, all you need to do is look.
How do you embrace technology?
Oh, and be sure to check out Jester Creative’s latest feature from our resident tech guru, Tony Gamble! Each week he will be helping us decipher the wild world of technology with Tony’s Tech Tips.