Simplify to embrace new technology

If you made a New Year’s resolution to get your first tablet in 2016, or upgrade your beloved flip phone to a smartphone, or received one as a holiday gift from your well-meaning family member, you will be pleasantly surprised at what the digital world has to offer. As discussed in the last WBVO issue of 2015, these tablets and smartphones, what I call "Power of One" devices, are more intuitive to use compared to the traditional computer.

Still, for the uninitiated that first step can be intimidating as many manufacturers and purveyors of services based in the digital world still seem to assume a certain level of digital literacy by their users. This may be fine for those that have been exposed to technology and the internet, but for first-time users it can add to the perceived complexity even when using intuitive Power of One devices.

If you fall into the latter group, there is good news. Throughout my encounters with the community, on top of personal experiences helping my aging parents, in-laws and friends, I’ve received the same feedback time-and-time again that visual clutter induces intimidation. I have a method to remove that perceived obstacle to clear your flight path into the digital world.

Consider how your flip phone does one thing best: make/receive phone calls. You didn’t have to learn anything new other than to push the green button to make calls and press the red button to hang up.

Smartphones make/receive phone calls and so much more. Those row after row of icons on your touchscreen can seem like they’re daring you to click ‘em all, possibly sending you down a rabbit hole … but aren’t they so enticing?

Fear not – I’m not going to lead you down the rabbit hole. Just like you embraced and learned to use a mobile phone years ago, I know you can do the same with a smartphone.

The method I find effective when helping people in this demographic is to hide those other icons – at least until they have mastered one function like making/receiving a phone call.

Whether Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android is powering your device, simply dragging one icon on top of another which will create a folder. Once the folder is created you can drag other icons into that folder, essentially hiding those icons.

After you are comfortable with an app like the phone dialer that is responsible for making/receiving calls on a smartphone, go back into the folder to bring the next app that you want to learn and use. Repeat at your own pace.

Overly simple yet proven effective, it overcomes the feeling of anxiety that visual clutter brings. That should increase your success in embracing digital-world tools!

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 9:52 AM, 01.05.2016