Despite how prevalent technology is in the world, there are still people who suffer from technophobia, which is an abnormal anxiety or fear towards advanced technology.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that technophobes recoil at the sight of technology. They often just see it as complex and difficult to understand, finding even instruction manuals to be intimidating and overwhelming.
Technophobia is most present among middle-aged adults and senior citizens who didn’t grow up using such advanced technology. Considering how important technology is today both professionally and privately, this condition can be very limiting. If a friend or family member is asking for your help dealing with technophobia, here’s what you can do.
1. Diagnose the Issue
First, you need to figure out what it is about technology that is giving your friend trouble. Does it make them feel like they lack intelligence when they don’t understand how to use a device? Are they worried that a machine is going to take their job one day?
As you speak to your friend to find out what challenges they face with technology, reassure them by explaining that technophobia is completely normal. There have been people at every age and level of education who have gone through it.
2. Teach Them About the Upsides
Your friend probably has a general idea of the benefits technology can provide, but often, people immediately adopt the attitude that they don’t need something if it looks challenging. You can get your friend more excited to learn about technology by showing them how it can make life easier for them.
Explain how easy it is to use the internet for all kinds of tasks, including finding information, communicating with relatives on the other side of the world or promoting a business on social media. Show them different ways to use their smartphone. Mention some useful apps and gadgets that can help them in their private or professional lives.
Maybe your friend would like to see how he can video call relatives on Skype, avoid traffic while commuting using Waze or track spending on Mint. If you know of an app related to your friend’s profession, show them how it could boost their productivity.
3. Arrange Meetings
Once you’ve piqued your friend’s curiosity about technology, it’s time to set up meetings where you ask them what they’d like to learn. Of course, set a reasonable time frame for these appointments so your friend doesn’t get tired and you don’t spend your whole day tutoring them.
Start by figuring out your friend’s current proficiency with technology. You need to know if your friend is a novice without understanding of even using a computer, or someone with reasonable knowledge who want to learn about a specific device or app.
Take things step by step and don’t show them too much at a time. For a novice, you could start with creating text files and folders, and then move on to registering for online account.
Most of all, make the experience exciting for them. Show them the occasional game. Find an app to download that your friend can use every day to practice between your appointments.
4. Encourage Them to Take Action
Between appointments, give your friend things to work on, but don’t overload them. For example, you could tell your friend to start using Google to search for useful info and find answers to questions that stir their interest. Explain how with almost any question, all they need to do is type it in and they’ll get plenty of answers in the form of articles and videos.
Give your friend positive reinforcement so they stay motivated. Remember that it can be difficult to figure out technology when you don’t know much about it. This means you must be patient if your friend doesn’t understand something the first time around.
5. Advise Them to Consult a Professional
If you don’t have the free time or the expertise to train your friend, explain that you can help them from time to time, but they should also seek out either professional training or a technology mentor. To make sure your friend follows through without feeling abandoned, assist them in finding training options or a mentor.
Some people have truly debilitating technophobia, and you likely can’t fix this alone. In these situations, encourage your friend to seek psychological help. A mental-health expert can teach them the techniques they need to keep those fears in check.
Just like learning about technology, curing technophobia is something you can break down into simple steps. Meet with your friend to pinpoint the exact issue, and then explain how technology can improve their life. Schedule regular meetings and assign homework in-between. For someone who is struggling with more severe issues, help them find a professional.
By applying these tips, you might just be surprised how efficiently you can help someone in their struggle with modern technology.
Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen