Tablet or Other Digital Device Under Seniors’ Tree? Include Setup in the Gift!

Seniors going digital? It sounds that way, though maybe “seniors getting digital” is more accurate this holiday season, getting digital devices as gifts that is.

From what we’ve heard and read, a lot of people are giving their senior loved ones digital devices, including tablets, smartphones, computers — even video games and wearable fitness devices. That is in addition to the many seniors who are buying those devices for themselves.

We are thrilled to hear that because there are so many benefits for seniors in those devices, many ways it can make their lives better — safer, healthier, and more enjoyable…

Once they’re set up and put in use, that is!

Device Setup Key to Regular Use

How many times have we given senior loved ones a gift, or even gotten something for ourselves, that never really got put to use because it took too much time to learn or was difficult to set up?

I think we all have some of those stories: the new game with lots of rules nobody take the time to learn, the “assembly required” gift nobody finds time to assemble, or the new gadget with complicated instructions that look just too difficult to learn.

Don’t let that digital device you’re giving the senior in your life suffer the same fate. Why not give setup and maybe a personal usage tutorial as part of the gift? You might just find it ends up being a gift for both of you!

But what things should you set up to get them started? It seems like we have done it so much with our own devices it has become automatic to us. A pain the neck, maybe, but something we do without giving it a lot of thought.

Setup Steps to Consider as Part of Your Gift

Setup will be particular to the type and brand of the tablet or other device but there are a number of steps applicable to many that are important to your senior loved one getting the most out of your gift. These should help get you started.

  • Complete any special log-in steps or registration needed to use the device, such as setting up an account with iTunes, Google or Windows. Be sure you write down the passwords you create, as your senior loved one will need them later.
  • Activate the device on the cellular carrier’s system if it is a smartphone or tablet that has cellular data capability. Keep in mind that many others may be activating devices at the same time and it might take a little longer than you expect. You might even want to complete this step before the rest of setup so you don’t get sidetracked during the delay.
  • Connect the device to the primary WiFi your senior will be using, if any. If they are away from home when you set up the device, show them how it’s done. Equipping them with the information they will need when they get home will help ensure the device isn’t put aside and forgotten.
  • If it’s a device on which they will be using email, be sure to set up their accounts so they can send and receive mail from the start.
  • Set up apps for – or bookmark on the web browser, if appropriate – primary activities for which they’ll use the device. This might include
    • Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
    • The banking or other financial companies with which they can do business online
    • Kindle or other reading app they will use, including an Amazon account if they plan to access books there
    • Newspapers or magazines they read regularly (many subscriptions provide for digital access through apps or the web as well)
    • Use your imagination for others!

Don’t forget proper security settings when you’re setting up apps or online access!

Digital Togetherness – A Great Holiday Experience

It may be tempting to sneak away to a quiet area to set up the device but consider the benefits of doing with with your senior loved one instead. Not only do they get experience they can use to do it themselves the next time but you both get wonderful one-on-one time together — a commodity that grows more precious.

As long as you are working on the device together, consider going beyond simple setup to give them some hands-on tips that will serve them well.

Show how to change the size of the type on the screen so they can adjust it themselves if something is hard to read. Pinching a touchscreen comes naturally if you have done it for a while but those who haven’t seen one may have no idea how easy (and fun) it is.

Teach some of the little things that may frustrate all of us until we learn, such as there being no SEND button when commenting on a Facebook post — we just hit ENTER.

If they have an iOS (Apple) mobile device and friends or family do as well, show them how easy it is to link up with others using Facetime. For those who have other devices with a webcam, walk through initiation of a Skype video call. Both are capable of enriching seniors’ lives immensely.

Follow Up is Important

You’ll know what of your own tips to pass along to help them, but much of it will take multiple attempts for seniors to learn, just like it did for us when we got our first digital devices. Be a resource for follow up advice as well.

If you live locally or will be visiting with your senior loved one for a while, check back after they have used their new toy for a while to see if they have any questions or have run into problems. Here, too, you can be a hero that makes their experience (and teacher) valuable to them.

Don’t let distance get in the way of providing them with “tech support” either. Check in by phone and arrange some interactive online time so you can give them immediate feedback. Give them some “exercises” they can perform to develop and test their new tech skills. Practice does, after all, develop memory.

Keep in mind that a tablet, smartphone, computer or other device is only as valuable to your senior loved one as what they get from using it.

By helping them set up and learn to use the device, you will increase the benefit they get from it — and build a new memory with them while doing so!

4 thoughts on “Tablet or Other Digital Device Under Seniors’ Tree? Include Setup in the Gift!”

  1. Barry,

    I could not agree more about the importance of taking time to provide training, instead of simply setting up the device. The most challenging aspect of adopting new technology is learning basic navigation and understanding key concepts. New or inexperienced users can be easily discouraged, so the initial exposure is critical. It’s also important to note that less is often more: repetitive training on one or two of the most useful features (varies from senior to senior) is usually much more effective than a less detail overview of various features.

    My company provides iPad training resources for senior living communities and adult education centers, but we offer a library of free iPad video tutorials (specifically designed for seniors) on our website – – to help anyone that wants to get a senior love one connected.

    Thanks for a great article!

  2. Thank you for such a great article. Education is THE essential part to the equation of seniors adopting technology. I have been tutoring seniors for eight years now and still continue to learn how seniors react to technology. Having just returned from CES 2014 on a reporting assignment for the radio station CFAX 1070 Tech Talk, I was encouraged that innovators are now taking the end user more into account during the development stages of their products. My company provides technology tutoring on all technology devices such as tablets, eReaders, smartphones, laptop and traditional computers.

  3. I am happy that there are apps and tutorials available for seniors. It is true that sometimes, even the younger generation has a hard time with keeping up with technology nowadays, what more the seniors.

    There is also an amazing new service specifically catered for the seniors, especially loved ones who has Alzheimer’s. GeriJoy company provides this service. You and/or your readers may be interested in this new service that provides virtual, talking pet _companions for seniors_. It’s been highlighted by AARP as one of the most innovative solutions in senior care today.


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