Senior tech tips frequently deal with the “how to” of computing but rarely provide advice for actually buying the technology. Read on for must-know tech tips for seniors in the market for a first or new computer and how to deal with sales staff.
Technology and Seniors: Fighting the Misconceptions
Whether they wear blue or red shirts and are hired to present technological tips for seniors and others, today’s big box store employees have the misconception that senior citizens are computer illiterate. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Pew Research Center reveals that about 70% of those aged 50 to 64 and 38% of those 65 and older have a regular online presence. That being said, those in the market for a new or first computer may find that they do not receive the assistance needed to make a solid buying decision.
How to Buy a First/New Computer: Technological Tips for Seniors
Windows PC or Mac?
There is no right or wrong answer; both systems are now ridiculously easy to use. Seniors should find out what friends and family members use; if the majority runs a Mac, it will make file sharing easier to have a Mac. If the majority is on a Windows-based system, opt for a PC that runs Windows.
Location, Location, Location
USB ports (universal serial bus) are the connectivity standard that allows for the hookup of plenty of peripherals. These are frequently located in the back of the computer, where they are a real hassle to reach. Pick a model where the USB ports are in the front.
The Rule of 2
Tech tips for seniors tend to gloss over speed and focus on memory, but both are important. Simply remember the rule of 2: look for a first or new computer that has a 2.0 GHz CPU (a central processing unit with a speed of two gigahertz) and features 2 GB of RAM (two gigabytes of random access memory).
Computers come preloaded with anything required to get started. Do not invest in a lot of additional software from the get go but first evaluate what else is needed. One exception: unless it is preloaded, invest in McAfee VirusScan.
Storage and Monitors: Size Matters
Leave plenty of room for storing pictures and video clips and have the virtual real estate to actually see them. Find a hard drive with 320 GB and choose a monitor that measures 19 inches or bigger. This avoids the frustration of watering eyes and copious scrolling.
Dealing with the Salesman
Armed with these very basic but meaningful tech tips for seniors, it should be easier to weather the interactions with the computer salesman. Although all should be well-trained to offer technological advice, some are sales-people first and computer experts second. Seniors should avoid the hard sales pitch and buy only what they need to get started. Remember: it is easy to upgrade later on.
Seniors who would rather buy online should consider Dell and their Desktop Selector Tool that allows for complete customization in keeping with budgetary restraints.
Pew Research Center. “Four in ten seniors go online” (accessed January 20, 2010)
Michigan State University. “Dave’s Guide to Buying a Home Computer” (accessed January 20, 2010)