Granny’s Baby Steps Online

Never too old to learn. My grandmother is almost 80 years old. Still, she is full of energy. She goes for a walk or a bike ride every day. Nowadays she has her mobile phone to take with her, but that is only since recently. Two years ago she didn’t have a mobile phone yet. She’d write down everything on paper. Information she’d look up in a real book. Now she makes handy use of her smartphone to communicate and to look up information. It took some time for her to get used to her phone and she is still learning. I think it is amazing, though, how she is adjusting to this modern society where everything changes very quickly.

Baby step 1: The basics

When my grandmother got her phone she studied on it every day. Every time she got a question she came over to ask for help. Luckily she lives across the street. Little by little she learned more about her phone: how to turn it on, how to turn off the sound and how to swipe and scroll. I can barely imagine how difficult it must be for my grandmother to learn those things. Nowadays people learn them at a very young age. My cousin, still a toddler, knows how to turn on his tablet to watch movies. Young people tend to take digital skills for granted. They easily forget that elderly people did not grow up with laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Baby step 2: Communication apps

Life without online communication. To me it sounds like ancient history. For my grandmother it was her youth. When my grandmother went traveling she had to send a postcard home to let her parents know she was alright. Nowadays, I think, many people just post pictures online. People know from each other what they do and where they are all the time, thanks to social media. My grandmother doesn’t post photos online, but she does send me text messages. I used to cross the street to talk to my grandmother. Now when I want to know something I just text her. It makes me lazy.

Baby step 3: Information sources

Sticking to the old and familiar. My grandmother knows how to use a navigation app. That’s great because, after all, she cycles a lot and then she can always find the way back home. She does not use the navigation app that often, though. She sticks to the old, real maps. Also, when I talk to her about trips I make, she always grabs a map to show me the route. Apps are very handy, I think, but apparently, not that essential in life. It’s not impossible to do without.  

This last year, I have seen how difficult it actually is to use a smartphone properly. When we turn on our phone, when we swipe or scroll, when we turn off the sound, a lot of people don’t think about how we do those things. People already forgot that we all had to learn those things. How crazy is it that a toddler knows how to watch movies on his tablet and knows how to play games on it?! I think it is very admirable how my grandmother is mastering her phone; and I think, maybe, I should break free from my phone a bit more often.