Connectedness through digital literacy
As I started writing the final WVBO column of 2016, I started reflecting on the mile markers my wife and I crossed this year. One of those milestones was starting a nonprofit, getting approved as a 501(c)(3) organization and graduating the first 12 senior participants from our pilot program – all in 367 days! In a future column I hope to talk about our mission and also additional important work undertaken by the Westshore Senior Center Collaborative, of which we are a part, and includes senior centers from the cities of Westlake and Bay Village, to help the senior citizens of the Westshore area.
Although it is easy for me to rattle off the benefits of digital literacy in today’s duality of the real and digital worlds we live in, the core benefit of the digital world always boils down to one word: connectedness. The word "connectedness" is probably what the English poet John Donne had in mind when he penned the poem “No Man Is an Island.” That poem was definitely about connectedness in the real world as he lived in the late 1600s to early 1700s, while I speak of the virtue of connectedness that was born after the arrival of the mother-of-all-disruptive-innovations – i.e. the internet.
Nothing replaces real-world connectedness even though digital-world connectedness exists as an option and reflects the change in generational preferences of how to communicate (aka how to connect). And is it the same? No, not in a thousand years; and I have first-hand experience with my parents who are aging-in-place 6,500 frequent flier miles away from me. Yet it is an option I would rather benefit from as only going home once every several years is too long, especially when my parents are aging seniors.
Although I chose to study the earlier iteration of digital literacy using computers in the late 1980s at Cleveland State University, it is much easier to become digitally literate in 2016 and doesn’t involve the kind of money a college education demands. The digital-world tools I often refer to as “Power of One” devices (tablets and smartphones that only require a minimum of one finger to operate through touchscreens) are intuitive and have become commodities and thus are affordable.
Affordability, by the same token, is subjective and for many seniors aging-in-place, becoming digitally literate can be a decision pitted against food and medicine. Our nonprofit is trying to change that by providing a path to digital literacy and hopefully the means to benefit from the new life skills attained. You can make a difference too: This holiday season a gift of a Power of One device to your parents or relatives who have not embraced digital literacy. It may be a gift that will not only enable them to benefit from the digital-world offerings but also increase their connectedness.
Afterall, no person is an island – aging-in-place or otherwise!
Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.