One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to introduce new technologies to our customers. At our luncheons or in the community, I’ve set up a Tech Table with various tablets and phones for people to use or ask questions. A number of people bring in their devices and ask questions on setting it up or using it. From this experience, I’ve learned a number of things and want to share it with you.
1. People’s skills vary from beginner to expert, but one thing I found is the user is prone to blame themselves for their frustrations. Don’t! You are learning something new and exciting, so don’t bring yourself down. Instead, you should be celebrating your venture into technology. Remember that technology is created by people and people make mistakes or make things very general, so if you run into a problem programming your phone, just note it for next time. It’s not always you!
2. Technology doesn’t fix everything. It helps you with efficiency and connects you with many useful resources, but it won’t do all the work for you. I’ve had customers insist their device should know what they’re thinking and quite simply, we’re not there yet. A smartphone might be “smart” but it requires you to put work into it.
3. Yes, you need an e-mail and sometimes a specific one. Some users often want to bypass certain things like creating an Apple ID or a Gmail account for their phone. In order to enhance your device or download Apps and games, you do need to create special e-mails and enter passwords. I always suggest people write down their info and rewrite their password in code and put it somewhere safe and accessible.
4. The touch screen is meant to be intuitive. I know it doesn’t feel that way because most people did not grow up learning this technology at a young age, but it is designed to engage our sense of touch and logic. Think about all the different ways you can touch the screen. One tap, two tap, pinch screen, swipe across and more. Since there isn’t a device to move around the screen, think about how your tablet or phone might expect you to engage with it. I always encourage people to try new ways to touch it and see what happens. Move things around, open up Apps and play with it.
5. Don’t worry about the system so much. A lot of people often get bogged down on the mechanics of smart devices. They often ask me how it’s made, how it knows to perform certain tasks (When will the keyboard come up?), and what makes it work. To this I always use the analogy of a car. When you learn to drive, do you learn the basic functions of the car like the wheel, shift gear, brakes or do you learn how the engine works, how to change the oil, and how to it works? That’s exactly the same thing with devices. I wouldn't worry so much about learning the engineering. Try to enjoy the functions and what you can get out of it.
6. There’s an overwhelming amount of tools. The first thing I ask is, “What do you want to do with your device?” and most people tell me they don’t know what it does. So I ask if they use the basics, e-mail and internet. From there we figure out what they would use it for. You can use it for simple tasks, calendar, playing games, surfing the internet and then you can expand from there. A fun thing to do is think about your hobbies. Are there games you enjoy? Are you a part of an organization? You’d be surprised by what you might find. I helped a gentleman who bought a smartphone and tablet to keep track of important dates and documents for The Boy Scouts. We went into the App store and simply typed in, “boy scouts” and all sorts of apps came up including camp songs, official rules and regulations, and many other resources. I suggest people type in different interests in the App store and see what pops up.
The point is to keep having fun and never stop learning from your experience. Do you need a smartphone and tablet? No. You don’t actually need many things, but different tools make life easier. That’s what smart devices aim to do. You can use it to its fullest or for just the essentials. Have fun with it!
Check out our Events page for upcoming technology programs and classes in the Chicagoland community.