Yuri (name changed for privacy) was a coworker of mine when I was working in Philadelphia. She did a great job at her work with immigrant and migrant families, but struggled to keep up with the technology that was being utilized to streamline casework paperwork and maintain electronic records. She was diligent in her practice, and always had the notes. One day as we were talking about technology, I realized that she did not know how to select, copy and paste files and folders on her computer. So I spent the next hour teaching her just this skill. I appreciated that I could do this in a way that was patient and kind, and she really appreciated that I took the time to do this for her. I did not get the chance to do much more with her, but hopefully it took away a small bit of fear of learning about computers.
I get really excited when I am asked to help someone with their computer and technology. It is an opportunity to support them in their lives, or in their work, or in reaching their potential. I use the story above to illustrate the importance of patience in the work that I do.
The process of introducing someone to helpful technology can be a time consuming and repetitive. However, once they get the hang of it, its as if they were never without in the first place. That feeling is so rewarding to me because new skills open new doors to this person.
I actually really like it because the person is likely to explore technology, social media and the internet on their own, and a whole new world is opened up to them.
Here are a few tips if you are working with someone who might be a tad or more fearful about learning a new skill on their phone, Facebook page or computer.
- It starts with the person. Always. Technology is developed everyday to support the humans on earth. What I love about my new business is that I'm going to get to listen to many stories and dreams of the people I meet. They want to achieve something, and oftentimes technology is a way to do it. It can cut out 20 middlemen, it can get you to the right person the first time and it can be used in personal advocacy! All at a click's notice.
- Not everything is common knowledge. There's still a lot of people who are not digital natives, and they are older as well as younger. Not everyone has equal access to technology and computers as they grow up. I never want to be the one to embarrass someone. If they are asking me a question about their phone, its because they want to learn.
- Smile and be encouraging... a lot! You can build their confidence. Confidence is hard to come by. The process of learning something new is a great big brain workout, and can literally open up life opportunities.
- It might take repetition. As the hour passed by with Yuri, it was important for me to just be present with her in the moment so that she could get as much out of it as possible. Her excitement was contagious!
- They will appreciate you so much. Remember, not everyone they come across is going to be supportive and patient. They might have been made fun of or assumed that they were not very smart. It is no surprise they are weary about computers and technology.
What other tips would you add to this list? How else would you support those who are not digital natives or who have not had the same access to technology growing up?
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