Technology permeates every aspect of our lives. It is an integral part of how we work, learn, communicate, socialize, shop, bank, and entertain ourselves. Despite the allure of technology, it isn’t for the faint of heart. There are pitfalls that hinder our use and how we feel towards it.
Generations that have grown up with digital devices tend to be more astute on how to use them. However, there is no escaping certain barriers that trigger complications for all people who embrace technology.
These drawbacks include the following:
Today’s technology isn’t cheap. The price of purchasing electronic devices is only a fraction of what it costs to own and operate them. In most cases, there are expenses associated with system software, installation, training and support, internet services, cybersecurity, add-ons, and updates. These expenditures can often consume a notable percentage of one’s monthly budget.
Network infrastructure refers to a blend of hardware devices, software applications, and network services. When any of these are improperly set up, outdated, or conflicting with each other, the performance and reliability of electronic devices are likely to malfunction.
From government organizations to multinational corporations to individual users, everyone is fair game to the sophistication of today’s cybercriminals. Cybercrime is a global threat that violates individuals’ right to privacy and the security of personal data. Some of the more prevalent forms of cybercrime include phishing, identity theft, harassment, ransomware, child pornography and solicitation, account hacking, credit card fraud, and inciting hate or terrorism.
Technical support is a service provided by companies to advise and assist registered users with issues concerning hardware, software, and networking systems. Failing to have access to competent, trustworthy, and on-demand tech support can disrupt the flow of productivity and be a major source of personal and professional aggravation.
Technology is continuously in flux with emerging hardware and software programs that keep it trendy, vibrant, and secure. For the end user, learning is required to navigate through the complexity of system changes and to appreciate and utilize technology to its fullest.
The endless supply of information found online provides immediate access to every conceivable subject matter known to mankind. While some of this information is well documented and reliable, there is too much that can be misleading, skewed, and downright false. Teasing out the truth from fiction can be a daunting process that often produces more questions than answers.
Spending an obsessive amount of time trolling the internet, playing video games, watching streaming movies and television, and gambling online can be just as addictive as using drugs or alcohol. An unhealthy attachment to electronic devices, including the cellphone, can alter people’s face-to-face interactions with others and ability to focus on what’s real and present. Those individuals who engage in too much screen watching can experience such health issues as obesity, chronic neck and back problems, eyestrain, headaches, anxiety, and problems sleeping.
A Word to the Wise:
For the older generation of users, take note of the following:
(1) Tap into the advantages of technology.
The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to technology. Discover the benefits of staying connected with others through social media, surfing the internet for information and services, finding entertainment sites for videos and gaming, and accessing online services for managing your banking, shopping, learning, and health needs. Instead of fighting it, take time to fully understand what technology can do for you.
(2) Understand your limitations.
Physical and mental impairments associated with aging can impede how well you operate technology. While you won’t have the same agility and skill set as your children or grandchildren, there are creative ways for you to learn how to stay engaged in today’s technologies.
(3) Tweak your mindset.
Attitude is everything. If you let feelings of insecurity, fear, anxiety, or frustration derail you from making good use of technology, you will miss out on some amazing opportunities. Be open with a “can do” approach and willingness to try new things.
(4) Do what it takes to get support.
You aren’t alone. Most large corporations have a team of IT staff on hand to troubleshoot technical issues. Whenever you encounter difficulties with your hardware or software systems and are unable to work around them, call in a trusted friend or family member to help you through the process. You might back this up with the support of professional experts to assist with the more complex problems.
(5) Taylor your learning.
Technology is exponentially changing with new updates and emerging hardware and software. Customize your specific learning to what you need to know most and how you learn best. Consider taking classes on technology through your local community, including colleges, senior centers, and other credible organizations. You may want to seek one-on-one training from a professional or get a quick tip from someone you know to be knowledgeable. You can also find an abundance of “how to learn” instructions by searching the internet. The videos on YouTube might be a good place to start. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to learn at your own pace and with your own unique style of learning.
(6) Join the crowd.
Give yourself a break. You are not the only one to experience the scams, glitches, high costs, and other related plagues of technology. In all, it is not a matter of if, but when and how well you respond to tech challenges. If you opt to shut down or throw it all away, you are only hurting yourself. Technology is here to stay, so why not make the best of it?
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Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and a contributing member to LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.
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