If you have a parent, older relative, or older friend who has expressed a desire to own a computer, you may volunteer to help them out without thinking – and right now you may be wondering how, exactly, to choose a computer for someone who needs it. no need for a machine for video games, business purposes, or fancy programs.
It’s true: Senior citizens probably don’t need a computer for the same reasons you need one. But they also deserve satisfaction with the purchase. If you volunteer to help choose one, there are several guidelines that will ensure any new computer owner is ultimately happy – and properly educated – with the choice.
Before Buying a Machine
Buying a computer can be a daunting task for someone who has never done it before. Arm yourself with a few ideas before heading to the store.
Laptops versus Desktops
The first question asked is whether the senior wants a laptop or a desktop. Of course there are pros and cons to both choices, but consider the following reasons why a laptop may be a better choice for older people:
- Laptops are portable and lightweight, which means seniors can travel with ease.
- Laptops require fewer cables and parts – a monitor, keyboard and mouse are all included in one machine, which might appeal to someone who is older and intimidated by technology.
- Laptops are often cheaper.
Mac versus Windows
If you’re a warrior of the old Mac versus PC argument – and you’re devoted to one answer – you may be tempted to switch senior citizen to your own preferences. But do not. Instead, share the following benefits of each type of computer and let them decide.
- It’s often easier to learn Mac software; they are known to be more user-friendly.
- Macs are durable and long lasting.
- Macs are less susceptible to viruses – which can be a plus if your senior is just learning to navigate the Web.
- Cheaper PCs.
- PCs are also cheaper when it comes to repairing and buying software.
- The PC world offers a wider selection of software and a wider range of peripherals, from printers to speakers to joysticks.
Make sure the computer you buy has the right features to help seniors navigate easily and comfortably. Here are a few to consider. Most computers come with this built-in feature, but it’s important to check it out and learn how to use it.
- Screen resolution and contrast:
Depending on the preference of the computer owner, most screens can be adjusted for text size and contrast. Usually, you can use a keyboard shortcut or menu option to achieve the desired effect.
- Touch screen:
Many computers now offer touch screen options, which may be more convenient for senior citizens – especially those with arthritis or who have difficulty moving around easily.
Of course, you can turn up the engine volume as the new owner wants. But dubbing – when the computer “talks” to its owner – can also be a useful tool.
How do you determine what software packages to install for a new machine? First of all, find out what the owner is thinking. Quiz him on interests. In most cases, the software on the computer is sufficient, but there are also programs that “simplify” software for seniors, including Internet access.
After Buying Machine
We emphasize this very much: If the new owner is not tech-savvy, set up a new machine to make it easier for users to carry out basic functions.
Accounts and Passwords
Don’t let the new owner get confused by the set of usernames and passwords he or she needs to log into various accounts such as email, video chat, and social media. Keep these few tips in mind: Simple is best. Don’t make your username and password too complicated. On the other hand, don’t be lazy about passwords – the names of pets, grandchildren, or other references are better than something as easy to hack as serial numbers. Encourage new computer owners to write down usernames and passwords and store this information in a safe place.
Inexperienced Internet users may come across websites that will harm computers. Nonetheless, setting up a simple virus protection program is a good idea. It’s also important to teach the new computer owner to protect personal information such as physical address and Social Security identification – especially if he or she will be using the Internet for medical or other personal matters.
Don’t rely on neighbors’ Internet access – such plans compromise security, and are far from reliable. Instead, suggest that your senior friend invest in wired Internet and use a direct wired ethernet connection, which is simpler than going wireless.
Remember, helping senior citizens buy and set up their first computer is easier than you might think. With a little patience and humor, they’ll be up and running in no time.