Get Online to Stay Connected
The benefits of socialising – whether it be over the internet or face-to-face – are numerous. From psychological to sociological factors, the positive impacts have been proven for any age group.
For those taking their step into the world of digital communication, here are some tips…
1. Connect Through Email
Snail-mail has quickly become a thing of the past. While we all love to receive letters in the mail, they can get lost or take too long to deliver. Thankfully, email is there to bridge the gap. Email lets you send a message, however short or long, regardless of where the recipient is located.
Email is also a great way to keep connected with companies and businesses you frequent, with daily, weekly, or monthly e-newsletters delivered right to you, and without the excess papers that come with junk mail.
TIP: Never open an email, link, or download from someone you don’t know. These are often viruses that can damage your computer or steal valuable personal information. Consider purchasing a computer antivirus program for additional protection.
2. Connect Through Social Media
The over 50s generation has taken over social media networks like Facebook. With a few clicks of a button, you can play games, post comments, share messages, and upload photos! Want to make the experience more personalised? There are hundreds and thousands of groups for every interest, connecting you to new and old friends from all over the world.
TIP: Be careful with what information you share and don’t be afraid to use the ‘block’ button. Your internet experience should be a fun one!
3. Connect Through Instant Messaging
Social media networks like Facebook also offer users private chatrooms. This ‘instant messaging’ – or direct messaging – allows people to connect via typed messages or sending videos and pictures, to others using the same website. It offers more privacy than commenting on public posts and can be between two people, or a group.
TIP: For the best viewing experience, most instant messaging programs allow you to alter elements such as text size and colour, background colour, and on-screen keyboard size.
4. Connect Through Video Chatting
Video chatting services have experienced a massive rise in popularity over the last couple of years. What was once predominately reserved for work meetings and webinars, has been embraced by Aussies of all ages to stay connected with loved ones.
There are many ways to get video chatting, with modern smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers coming equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers.
If you are setting it up for your senior parents who are not quite used to these new technologies, introducing them with easy instructions is a must. Consider…
- Physical Capabilities – Make sure the device is big enough for fingers that may be slowed by arthritis and for those with diminished eyesight. Most speakers will be loud enough, but external speakers might also be helpful for the hard-of-hearing.
- Programs – Some video chatting programs (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp) are pre-installed on devices, while others will need to be searched for and downloaded, usually free of charge.
- Mobile Data or WiFi – Using video chat programs can use a lot of data, costing money and raising phone bills. If possible, save video chats for when WiFi is available, or consider a revised telephone plan.
Make the process of learning or teaching your loved one a fun one. Demonstrate, answer questions, explain using age-appropriate examples, trial different platforms, or consider writing a step-by-step (with pictures for image-driven learners). Never be demeaning when it might take some time for them to learn this new skill. After all, you may teach your parents how to use a computer, but they taught you how to use a spoon!
Once the COVID pandemic is well and truly behind us, and border closures and travel restrictions are a thing of the past, these skills will still play a big role in our lives.
Whether in a different city, state, or in a country on the other side of the world, staying connected is becoming easier and accessible to everyone. With internet speeds making dropped connections and lags less common, you can easily feel as if you and your loved ones are together again.
With the whole world waiting for you to get online, who will you connect with first?
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide