Using an iPad to be a part of the Social Age doesn’t require that you be tech-savvy, less than 35 years old, or speak fluent English. Many people stray away from new technology with the assumption that it’s too difficult to use. There shouldn’t be stereotypes classifying who could benefit from a tablet. Just as the Social Age can open up anyone’s world, tablet technology can be utilized by anyone. Their simplistic designs and interfaces don’t require that you be part of the Geek Squad or have any experience with computers.
Let us share with you our stories with two individuals whose personal experiences have demonstrated to us the power and possibilities of new tablet technologies.
I can barely explain to my 58-year-old mother how to change the video input on our TV or how to increase the ringtone volume on her flip phone without having to repeat myself a good 4-5 times. Yet, she has absolutely no problem launching an Angry Bird towards a pile of strategically stacked pigs – on her iPad.
Late last October, I purchased an iPad as an early birthday surprise for my mom. As she was unveiling her gift, she exclaimed, “Wow, thank you … what is it?”
Ouch. I think my heart just cracked a little. I know my savings did.
I just spent a ridiculous amount on this tablet and I will make sure she knows exactly what it is. I tried to explain to her to the best of my ability in broken Vietnamese (she doesn’t speak much English) that it’s almost identical to her iPod Touch – but now she can actually see the screen!
After my many pauses and horribly butchered pronunciations, she understood. And thus, began my 58-year-older mother’s journey into the Social Age.
Prior to handing it to her, I adjusted her settings to display Vietnamese instead of
English, which made it less of a struggle for her to navigate. I also synced her previously created accounts, iTunes applications, and added her list of contacts.
Already familiar with games from her iPod, she had no problem adjusting to flinging those Angry Birds with the iPad’s much bigger screen. Her favorite games also include Fruit Ninja HD, Slots Free for iPad, and Coin Dozer – World Tour.
Not only does her iPad act as a form of entertainment, it serves as a convenient tool for her to communicate with her five adult children.
She frequently refreshes the Weather+ Free app to check the weather for several different areas. A swipe for where each of her five children reside and once for her work location.
I often see her composing an email or conversing on the phone with my sister from Chicago. Sure enough, she’s letting my sister know that it’ll be snowing there soon and to remember to dress my nieces warmly for school. Last Christmas, my sister was also able to give my parents a grand tour of her new home using Skype on the iPad.
My siblings are always teasing at how our mother is now more technologically advanced than they are. I’ll surely take credit for that feat.
Just less than six months ago, my mom had no idea what an iPad is and now her daily routine can’t go without one.
My Grandma is 81 years old; definitely not the first person you’d think to enter the Social Age on her own. She knows the basic functions of her DVD/VCR combo player and does own a computer. However, it can be frustrating to hear that, “The computer broke,” when really it was just a program that needed an update, the Internet was being slow, or her mouse ran out of batteries. A computer can do so much, but with all of its capabilities comes a whole slew of complexities and issues that even I sometimes find confusing. Despite her age, she has always been open to new technology but it was time to take a simpler approach.
When she unwrapped her iPad last Christmas, she was intrigued. Something so simple, portable, and button-less left many questions. Where’s the keyboard? What’s a touchscreen? What does it do? She knew nothing of tablet devices, let alone ever hearing the term, “iPad” before. However, we would soon learn that her age wouldn’t act as a barrier when it came to embracing the device.
I started simple and downloaded a few games while showing her the basic features of the new device. Various apps including Angry Birds, Fishy Slots HD and an interactive, talking cat instantly became her favorites. She also enjoyed how easy it was to play Mah Jong by simply tapping the little app icon. On her computer, she had to open up the web browser, remember which username and password to use in order to log in into her Yahoo account, and then search the game servers for an open game. There was no buttons and no mouse—just the ease of touching and swiping.
Then came the ultimate test. I was sitting at home fiddling on my iPhone. That’s when I decided to see how well my Grandma would handle answering a FaceTime video chat call. I dialed her up and it rang a few times, so I imagined that she was staring at the incoming call and being utterly confused until it would stop ringing. Instead, the image of her smiling face showed up on my screen. A connection was made! The first thing she said was, “I’ve been trying to shoot these Angry Fish for almost an hour now!” I laughed and said, “They’re Angry Birds, Grandma. Not fish.” It was a much easier correction than dealing with driver updates or Internet popups. More importantly, for the first time ever, she was communicating with her grandson through her new iPad, and thus bringing her into the Social Age.
As we’ve said before—through working, playing and living, the Social Age is all around us. Yet, many people repel from the latest gadgets with the assumption that they won’t be able to adapt to the unfamiliarity of modern devices.
Let these two women be grand examples of how openness to new technology can truly transform and improve the way you connect with the things and people you care most about. As our stories have demonstrated, once you allow yourself to conquer the fear of the unknown, you too, can be a part of what’s current and new. It’s a lot easier than you think.