80-year-old Melbourne retiree Bob Eden recalls that in the early 1970s, even pocket calculators were prohibitively expensive: “It would have cost about one quarter of my yearly salary as a young university lecturer…in a word – unaffordable!” he says. Once computers did finally make their way into homes, “it was an era of only owning a computer if you really needed one.”
Now though, Bob sees computers and smartphones as everyday devices that have become “an essential part of modern living”. But for those in the older generation, the leap in digital technology over the past few decades can be an intimidating one.
“Either you had never used a computer before and it was daunting, or you had only used computers decades earlier. I was coming from that era where a single keystroke error could wipe out, in a fraction of a second, hours or possibly weeks of previous work and data,” says Bob. “In other words: scary.”
So how does someone from the older generation like Bob, who might be hesitant or afraid of technology, start getting online in a time when it is more important than ever?
“Try to overcome those fears and pre-conceptions of computers that were so common in one’s youth,” says Bob. “My advice is to learn and practice in a safe environment first.”
Bob knows this from his own experience taking digital skills classes at ReadyTechGo. Initially signing up for support with Excel, Bob found that the social group setting of the classes provided a friendly and safe environment to develop his confidence and ask questions without fear.
“I learnt so much in that [first] two-hour session. And discovering that I was not alone when it came to asking seemingly ‘stupid’ questions – Now I have the confidence to ask questions,” says Bob.
While COVID-19 restrictions meant that in-person classes were replaced with Zoom sessions, Bob found the switch to online group classes easy with the support of ReadyTechGo.
“A quick Google search and I found out enough about Zoom to make a start – and it’s oh so easy!” he says. “Since ReadyTechGo always sends a meeting link well before an information session, it was very easy to just click that link and with Zoom already installed on my laptop, I was in the meeting session immediately.”
Through these online classes, delivered as part of the Be Connected program at ReadyTechGo, Bob has now realised how useful getting online can be.
“[With COVID-19], a smartphone became an essential tool for QR Codes, government messaging and day-to-day living,” says Bob. “ReadyTechGo’s Zoom sessions have opened my eyes to all the smartphone’s capabilities in assisting with other day-to-day uses as well.”
For Bob, these other uses include navigating maps and public transport timetables with online smartphone apps, taking and sending pictures of documents, and checking the weather.
“The Bureau of Meteorology app is great for determining if it’s expected to be good for hanging out wet washing!” he says.
“The digital world can make life easier. But it does need some understanding too.”
Get support to start your online journey and improve your understanding by attending a Get Online Week 2021 event this October 18-24.