Ask a Librarian: Older person wanting to learn about tech

screenshot of the Yahoo Internet Life web site from 2002

Subtitled: What’s the Yahoo! Internet Life for this generation?

From a friend: A nice older lady asked for advice on keeping up with technology and the kids. Are there any resources you’d recommend that I can in turn recommend to her? Web pages, books, etc?

That’s super challenging because some of it depends on what level she is at already.

  • Online or offline information?
  • Is she in an existing community?
  • What’s her level of understanding? (for some people you have to overcome some pretty serious “I am an idiot” intertia, for others, not so much)

If she just wants to learn about her own technology I often suggest dummies guides or a few “for seniors” books that her library might have. GFC Learn Free has some great online tutorials as does Lynda.com (now owned by LinkedIn, UGH but that’s just a you+me complaint I think, most people don’t care). Also, of course, check out if there are classes at the local library.

If she’s just curious “What’s new in tech this week” she could do worse than AARP. I thought they had a “what’s new in tech” podcast and I guess they don’t? They do have this landing page which would be good, some older people don’t like AARP (can’t blame them, some of their stuff is annoying) but if she’s already in that zone, it’s a good one.

One group that does an good job for a specific niche is AAA for road/travel stuff. Their magazine is nice and readable but will also talk about apps and tools for traveling and I’ve always appreciate that. Same thing with Kiplingers for money stuff. I don’t know why I assume older people want “magazines” but that is what my mom liked. Yahoo used to have a great magazine that would highlight new tech trends and I think we all miss it. Wired is really not it and I don’t think there’s another one that does what the Yahoo mag did.

Podcasts are places a lot of people get information (I’ve never really made the jump) but they have some trusted brands. I think the big deal is convincing people that it’s just like listening to the radio which it can be but there are some hurdles first.
This NPR podcast covers “the kids” though it’s more geared towards parenting. NPR also has this one but I am more shruggo on it.
If she’s already using some news platform (Reddit, Google, I know I know) showing her how to get the “tech” section of those can be useful. Like Google News has a technology section and I find it good for skimming what’s going on lately. Reddit’s ELI5 is great for basic explanations of stuff as is Simple Wikipedia (Wikipedia written for about a third grader but you don’t have to tell her)
Hope this is helpful. I suspect there is probably a better place to go (I’ll ask people at drop-in time) but it’s so far outside of my wheelhouse I don’t know about it anymore. Cheers and happy autumn

One thought on “Ask a Librarian: Older person wanting to learn about tech

  1. If she is willing and able to do some exploring on her own, she could do worse than to explore what the Goodwill Community Foundation is posting at https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/topics/. This requires familiarity with (if not comfort using) a web browser, and the sheer volume of information may seem a little daunting, but I’d encourage interested souls to find a topic of interest and open it up. They will find an excellent series of top-to-bottom scrolling tutorials on the topic and very likely a link to a sequence of YouTube videos of the same calibre. Cannot recommend this site highly enough for those with the initiative to explore.

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