Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Struggle With Technology – The Generation Gap (PART 1)

Complete ignorance to a worrying obsession

I understand technology. I really do. Downloading apps, uninstalling apps, computer gaming, torren… I mean Netflix, I really do and I did learn to use many types of tech all by myself. That’s just our generation I guess – tech savvy! Although I do remember a time when I did need to learn how to use a VCR to record my favorite Nickelodeon shows. My parents taught me. Very patiently I might add. Right from explaining what a VHS tape looks like to where it goes and that one must always rewind it once you’re done watching. This was also the case with learning the TV and the music system. Most of us learned to use “gadgets” from our parents. So it’s only fair that today it should be vice-versa, isn’t it?

How many times have you been annoyed by your parents or grandparents with regards to a problem they have with their phone or tablet? I’m considering the fact that you might just have agreed with the word “annoying”- The biggest part of the problem.  There is a fear or intimidation that technology manages to create among the older generation and we are a huge reason why. There have been several times my parents refused to ask me a trivial question with regards to their phone on account of how I might react. We all do it.

I remember reading about a very funny incident/joke – An old guy is trying to dictate loudly the problems he has with his PC to this IT support guy over the phone. The support guy is this young lad who’s fresh out of college. He keeps on telling the old man to switch on/off his PC. The old guy is finding this quite challenging, “Slow down young man. I am new to this”. The tech guy is starting to lose his patience a bit, “Sir, it’s very simple. Why is that you’re finding it so hard to do such a basic task?” The old guy aware that he was losing the interest of the young lad politely asked, “Son is it possible for you to come over to my place and help me out?” The tech guy was clearly annoyed at this point, “Gosh old man! Have you never used a simple little gadget in your life,huh? How hard is it?” The old man started to laugh, “Honestly son the last simple little gadget I used was a M2 Carbine back in `Nam. Actually it wasn’t that simple and it definitely wasn’t little. You see the M2 wasn’t like these guns you have nowadays”. After a brief silence, “Sir I’ll be there in 15 minutes!”

The greatest generation indeed! Why it is that tech forgot this generation?

As I understand the main aim for technology has always been to make human life easier but it seems an entire generation has been forgotten. There is a general misconception that the older generation does not possess the necessary grasping power to understand the various facets of the Smartphone world. Again – the problem!

Various studies have shown that the general scrolling of a website on a tablet or receiving a Skype call on your mobile tends to help the older generation to keep their brain active and avoid the feeling of isolation. Something similar to what you feel when you get 200 likes on Facebook.

I am not saying that the entire older generation struggle with technology but most of them do and one of the most common issues is the lack of user friendly devices. The most common problem is tablets or mobiles which have sensitive touch screens and complex menus which could become hard to use. Further to this there also exists some security threat – remembering passwords, financial details, virus, intrusions etc.

Isn’t it our job to educate our own parents/grandparents on how a phone works? In fact if you think about it they need it more than you do. Ordering a pizza or ordering medicines? Not the same thing, is it? Paying their telephone or electricity bills online helps avoid that tedious trip to the office. Show them how to do it initially. Patiently! Sooner or later they will get the hang of it. Ensure that they are confident enough to use the device on their own. Assure them that nothing will go wrong. Be there to explain if something does go wrong. Again patiently! Acknowledge that occasional WhatsApp image you receive from them. Keep connecting to them via various apps so that each time there is more faith in that device. Expose them to the world of Kindle, Netflix, YouTube etc. My grand mom follows a South Korean drama series on YouTube and my mom has subscribed to more channels on YouTube than me. My dad watches almost all of his childhood films and series across various video streaming portals like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. All it took was a little patience (maybe not little) and the occasional outburst from my side but my family is now “tech savvy”.

Philip Green said “Good, bad or indifferent, if you are not investing in new technology, you are going to be left behind”.



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