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Tech Savvy: What Seniors Need to Know

Seniors today grew up in a much different world. Sure, electricity and running water may have been old news by the time they were born, but a black and white television was a modern miracle. Long-distance communications still consisted primarily of the telephone, telegraph, or tell your neighborhood gossip. Meanwhile, a few obscure scientists were working on machine intelligence, experimenting with silicon chips, and laying the groundwork for the technology age we live in today.

We’ve seen some amazing changes of the past 50 to 60 years, and seniors have lived through it all. Here at Brandermill Woods, we offer complimentary Wi-Fi for those who like to keep up, and we’ve seen our residents tapping out texts and posting on social media with the best of digital natives. That said, not everyone has kept up with the latest technology has to offer—or the dangers inherent to our cyber world.

Here are four thoughts for getting tech-shy seniors plugged in and connected up for 2018:

1. Learn to FaceTime with family.

One of the biggest benefits of technology in the 21st century is the way it allows us to connect over long distances—cheaply and in real time. Apple’s FaceTime video calling app is a great way to keep up with children and grandchildren who are scattered to the winds. Two people with any Apple device can connect over a video call. If you don’t have an Apple device, a camera and microphone on any computer with an internet connection has the capability of calling someone. Skype and Google Hangouts are two other popular video calling services.

2. Find out where you came from.

Years ago, you had to rely on family lore and perhaps a few heirlooms to trace your lineage. These days, sites like Ancestry.com make it easy to research your family line. It’s no wonder then, that genealogy is becoming one of America’s favorite pastimes. Other sites of interest may be findagrave.com (where you can find photos of far-off family head stones) or 23andme (a genetic testing company that gives you a report on your blood line).

3. Connect with old friends.

Social media has exploded over the last decade, moving from a series of sites catering toward teenagers and college students to sites for everybody. These days, the young folks are likely on Snapchat, Instagram or something the rest of us have never heard of, but nearly everyone, from 18 to 80, is on Facebook. While the social media giant has caught a great deal of flak recently for the casual way it spreads “news” and user data, it is still an excellent forum for people looking to keep in touch or re-connect with old friends.

4. Check your privacy settings.

It’s not just social media that is playing fast and loose with data. Email systems, search functions, shopping sites—they all collect information about us, often without our realizing it. It’s a good idea for anyone—not just seniors new to the internet—to visit the settings feature of websites you log into to make sure your privacy settings are where you want them. There are too many settings to list here, but here is a recent overview in the New York Times about checking your privacy online.

While it’s wise to be cautious, there are so many exciting opportunities out there that it’s safe to say we really are living in the future.