For older adults, the internet provides a pathway to connection, convenience, and engaging with the world beyond immediate physical surroundings. Technology offers all sorts of possibilities for engagement and activity. Yet to ensure that older adults can participate, we need to provide them with the skills to embrace different tech tools and benefits.
Every year, CTN volunteers to teach a class with Front Porch, a Bay Area nonprofit that offers senior living, extensive programming, affordable housing, and community services for more than 10,000 people. Its mission is to inspire and build community, cultivating meaningful relationships and experiences that respond creatively to changing needs.
To help Front Porch clients participate in the digital world, CTN teaches a digital skills course through its Well Connected program. Well Connected is a phone and online community that offers activities, education, friendly conversation, and an assortment of discussion and support groups to older adults all from the comfort of home. This year, CTN’s Josie Boyle taught Well Connected participants how to shop online.
About 25 seniors across the country attended the training, with most dialing in by phone and a handful joining by Zoom. To ensure that trainings and activities are accessible to everyone, Well Connected has participants sign up ahead of time, then mails them a physical copy of the course’s slides to follow along. This blend of virtual and traditional learning helps participants learn more about technology without needing prior experience.
Josie’s course covered all the basics of online shopping, including how and where to do it, the advantages and disadvantages, and safety concerns. She instructed the participants about common scams to look out for, general security precautions to take, and what to do if they have an issue (like a missing or stolen package). The group also discussed payment alternatives for those who don’t have a debit or credit card or don’t feel comfortable using one for online purchases.
“There were some great questions and good engagement from the attendees,” reflects Josie. “I know many seniors are leery of online shopping, so I hope I was able to give them some helpful knowledge about the process and tips for doing it safely. If nothing else, now they know how to use the internet to research products and make price comparisons, even if they choose not to order online.”