Tablets: Valuable Tools for Senior Dads; Teaching Their Use is a Valuable Gift

Tablet computers and smartphones continue to grow in popularity with older adults as they see benefits having access to their email, the web, texting and other applications without being tied to a computer – – or even to their home.

Many seniors are finding out, along with many of those who are younger, they really don’t need a traditional computer with all the functionality that many tablets provide.

Those who used PCs in the office (and maybe at home) during their working days are finding out many tablets had more capabilities than those computers from their past and probably much lower prices.

Combine the benefits of senior loved ones using tablets with that lower price, not to mention the low cost of adding them to most cellular data plans, and it’s easy to see why many children and grandchildren gave a technology gift for Father’s Day. Are you among them?

Learning to Use Tablets Safely

It’s not just owning a tablet that’s important, though. Just as knowing how to use the tools in the workshop is key to achieving the benefits they have to offer, knowing how to use a tablet is important as well.

Yes, this applies to Moms and Grandmothers too, but this was written around the time of Father’s Day.

Safety in their use is important for tablets along with other power tools. Just as learning safety is the first step we’re taught when using a power tool, it should come first when using that new tablet for the first time. Yes, it’s hard to be patient when that new “toy” is screaming out to be put to use, but a few minutes up front can save pain and heartache later. Sure, that tablet is unlikely to cost a few fingers, but identity theft can result in its own kind of pain.

Here are some steps to consider when helping that senior father or grandfather approach the use of their new tablet safely.

  • Consider how passwords and access codes will be remembered or stored. While there are apps that help with that, many senior loved ones prefer to write them down. Yes, we often hear that shouldn’t be done, but it’s best to use a method that will actually be adopted by the technology user. Whatever method is chosen, help them organize the storage and consider if a backup – maybe a photocopy held by a loved one – will be useful.
  • Upon starting up the tablet for the first time, set up an access code or password for the device itself. It won’t keep out the most sophisticated data thieves but it should keep most prying eyes from seeing sensitive or private information.
  • Install an app that will help your senior loved one identify or even disable the tablet if it’s stolen or gets into the wrong hands after being misplaced. We hope the “Find My iPhone” and “Android Device Manager” (depending on the device) apps are never needed, but they are invaluable when they are needed.
  • When online passwords are not already in place for the financial, streaming music/video, reading and other apps that will make their tablet a valuable tool, help them set up passwords that won’t be easily cracked by an online hacker or tablet snooper. Don’t forget to input them in the the senior’s reminder system as well.

Many will find these safety lessons cause them to pause and reflect, remembering the times the roles were reversed. It might even make for a touching conversation with that dad or grandfather with whom you are working.

Setting Up the Tablet Toolbox

Once the safety lesson and implementation are complete, you can turn to the fun part of using that new toy/tool, getting into the apps themselves and putting them to use in doing what they can do to make us more efficient and effective at many of the tasks we perform – – and, yes, make our lives more enjoyable.

When helping someone pick out the apps for a tablet, you might want to suggest they think about those they will really use, at least until they are comfortable using the device. Many of us have experienced the clutter of a screen with pages of apps we never use, not to mention confusion when searching for the apps we want to use amidst those we added because we “might us them someday.”

Here are some suggested considerations when helping pick out the initial set of apps to be installed.

  • Resist the temptation to install an email alternative from the app that comes installed on the device. Sure, it might come in handy at some point but the native app is often easiest to set up and provides functionality that is sufficient for many users. Remember, they can always change later if their needs aren’t being met, but walking should come before running.
  • Suggest an e-reader app as one of the first to be added, since those apps help many people first see benefits in using a tablet and carrying it with them when they travel from home. You might consider setting up an account with the online bookstore and purchase one of two of their favorite books for them or download a free one to get them started.
  • When considering the apps to install for their banking, mortgage, retirement, brokerage or other financial accounts, suggest your senior loved one first consider which they might use regularly on their tablet. Staying current on accounts, such as monitoring activity on checking and credit card accounts, is one of the great conveniences many find in tablets. If they don’t think they’ll use the table to access an account, suggest they leave that app off to reduce the chances of mischief should their tablet fall into criminal hands.
  • If your senior loved one uses social media accounts to connect with family and stay up to date with their community, suggest they install the apps for those accounts on the tablet. Keep in mind that some of those apps function differently from the website versions with which your senior may be more familiar so you might want to walk through the app to reduce the chance of frustration.
  • Set up and conduct test video calls with Skype and, if their tablet is an iPad, Facetime. They are likely to experience a lot of joy having conversations with even their youngest family members and friends in this way so you’re doing them a real favor by getting them started.
  • Consider adding a game or two that dad / granddad might find enjoyable, since that is another way the tablet may become an indispensable part of their lives. If they don’t play any of them now, they may have heard friends or family members discussing a game and found it interesting enough to try themselves.

There are many more steps you can take in helping make that tablet a valuable tool for your senior loved one and we we’d love to hear your ideas. Please leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

A Tablet Adventure

If you’ve had a tablet for a while, you know what we have discussed is just a small part of making the most of the device as a tool. We didn’t intend this to be exhaustive, but a way for a family caregiver to help that senior father or grandfather get started with their new tablet.

Once you help get them started, though, you’ve put your senior loved one on the path to an adventure. There are so many ways that tablet can help make life more enjoyable, more organized, more connected, and a lot of other “mores” that will make them wonder how they managed to live so long without a tablet computer.

Won’t it feel good to know you played a role in that adventure?

3 thoughts on “Tablets: Valuable Tools for Senior Dads; Teaching Their Use is a Valuable Gift”

  1. I’m on my condo building’s Electronic Communications Committee, which Reports monthly to the Board. We have been asked to arrange wifi in the the large common areas of the building and produce a useful website for our 40 floor building. We are working on these goals now.

    Most of the folks here have and know how to use their computers and tablets. However, we need to find out which of our Seniors who have never used computers or tablets before might want to use the website. We can then help them to get tablets and learn safe ways to use them in small classes. I used to be a Librarian at the University of Chicago — I taught a lot of students (and faculty!) how to do online research on Macs and PC’s — but I’ve never started from scratch. You gave me a leg up. Thanks!

  2. We recently bought a grandPad for my in-laws, who are not too tech savvy, it’s a tablet specifically designed for senior citizens. They has been loving it so far! We were able to remotely setup up all their information and contacts, so they could start calling and emailing people within minutes of the grandPad’s arrival! They also have a friendly and attentive customer support staff who download all their favorite music directly onto the grandPad at no additional charge. What’s nice is that the grandPad is very user friendly. There are only a few buttons to push and it’s super easy to use. There’s even a help button if you get confused.

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