Tablet learning experience for elderly

Are there ways to make learning curve less painful for them?(and us too)

It’s getting more and more common for us to buy a tablet for our parents, whether it is to connect them to us who work remotely or for them to kill time.

My brother passed his old tablet to my mom and like other non-tech savvy parents struggle to learn how the device works and might even reluctant to accept it, because the learning experience was daunting. For us, we as well struggle to teach our parents.

Simplicity

After talking to my relatives and parents who are in 50s to 70s, most of them use tablet for:

  1. Camera for photo-taking and Gallery
  2. VoIP apps (Wechat, Whatsapp, Messenger, Line)
  3. Facebook
  4. Games
  5. Watch video or read news in browser/app

Inform what they want to know first

Tell them how to look for their favourite app among apps or quit the app. By telling them the features which they interested at that moment, it makes the learning curve less scarier and it builds up their confidence level.

Don’t overload them with information

Let them learn how to take photos, do they need to know about panorama? Do they need to learn how to take time lapse? Not at the moment, in the future probably.

It is best to keep their frustrations low. Try to spilt the teaching into different parts for next day.

Efficiency

Shortcuts

Their learning curve is much easier if you have setup the shortcuts for them.

Bookmarked their favourite websites for them to access it quicker. Some of them don’t need apps grouping(in iOS) as it’s not visible to them, simpler clear app arrangement will do. Arrange the important one from top left to bottom right.

Layout

If you want them to find WhatsApp quickly when there’s a call, make some efforts to arrange the apps in a way that they can easily find it. When I spoke to one of my relatives who is in his 50s wanted to show me his favorite app, he spent sometime to find it as his apps are everywhere, same categories in different pages(swiped back and forth for it).

Besides arranging important app from top left to bottom, negative spaces (or white spaces) helps in increasing readability and comprehension. In iOS, you can put the other non frequent-used apps in the second page without fill all the first page. Same for Android tablet.

Empathy

Of course, empathy is the KEY and it’s obvious that they might not get what you say the first or even the nth time. Imagine yourself trying out to cook a new dish.

Speak their language

“Click on the pause button to pause the video.”

Sometimes the icon that we think is intuitive to us because we have always been exposed to it. Will it be better to say the triangle icon instead? Even better, point at the icon when you are explaining.

Some jargons like airplane mode, night-shift etc. and gesture motions like swipe, long press, press and hold are new concepts for them.

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Current: Product Manager at Workmate • Always Software Engineer.