Technology help for tech-shy seniors

Published 9:40 am Friday, April 15, 2011

Dear Savvy Senior

What resources can you recommend to help seniors learn how to use technology devices? I am particularly interested learning how to text, email and Facebook so I can keep up with my grandkids.

Tech-Shy Senior

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Dear Tech-Shy,

Keeping in touch with the younger generation these days is a lot easier if you know how to use basic cell phone and computer technologies. Here are several tips and resources that can help you get started.

Hands-on help

While seniors make up the fastest growing group of Internet and email users in the U.S., they still lag way behind the younger generations.

One of the best places seniors can turn to for help using their cell phone or computer is their own grandkids who have grown up with these technologies and are practically experts at operating them. If that’s not an option, ask your friends or other family members who are tech-savvy to help you.

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to get help through your public library, local senior center, schools or community college – many of which also offer basic computer and personal technology classes to seniors.

To find out what’s available in your community, call your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number) or your public library.

Also check out SeniorNet (, 571-203-7100), a national organization that offers a variety of basic online computer courses as well as instructor-led workshops at around 60 learning centers throughout the U.S.

How-to resources

Another nice resource that can help you is Eldercare Locator’s new publication called “Staying Connected: Technology Options for Older Adults.”

This simple six-page guide will take you through the basic facts about how to use tools like Facebook, email and texting, including privacy and safety information. The guide also introduces YouTube, Twitter, Skype, Instant Messaging and blogging – all tools seniors can use to stay connected. To get a free copy, call 800-677-1116 or you can read it online at

There are also a wide variety of how-to books you can purchase that are very helpful. The “For Dummies” books (see, for example, offer dozens of technology guides for seniors like “Computers For Seniors For Dummies,” “Facebook and Twitter For Seniors For Dummies,” “Instant Messaging For Dummies” and many others. These books can be found in bookstores nationwide or online at sites like

And some great online resources to check out are, which provides basic computer, Internet and e-mail training materials tailored to seniors that can be viewed online or printed out for free. And, a site created by Google that offers a number of simple videos that explains how to do many computer functions.

Senior-friendly technology

Having the right tools can also make technology a little easier. Senior-friendly cell phones like the Jitterbug J (, 800-733-6632), Doro phones sold through Consumer Cellular’s (, 888-345-5509), and Just 5 (, 800-709-0509) are all easy to see, hear and operate, and they all have texting capabilities.

For computers, Hewlett-Packard’s SeniorPCs (, 888-640-1999), the Go Computer (, 877-671-5846) and KiwiPC ( are three options developed specifically for older adults.

Simple options

If you find the technology is too confusing, there are other products and services available today that can help you stay connected to your younger tech-using family members. One example is PostEgram

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.