Did you get a new tablet or smartphone?

Did you receive, or gift yourself, a digital-world device such as a tablet or a smartphone during the holidays? Have you already set it up and are enjoying the benefits like streaming movies and music, playing the kind of games you enjoy (racing games are my favorite!), videochatting with your grandkids, and getting your dose of up-to-the-second news? Or is the gift still sitting in the box and at risk of not even seeing the light of day?

Upon reading that last sentence, some of you may think it to be absurd. Unfortunately I’ve heard, in confidence, similar outcomes repeatedly over the years from seniors I helped. I blame these outcomes on the “intimidation barrier.”

Yes, it may only be a mindset, but a decade (or more) of constant reminders like “leave it to the IT staff to fix your computer” or “let cousin Tak, the computer wiz, fix that for you” surely helped ingrain the idea that technology was for the rocket scientists!

This wasn’t necessarily a wrong perception, especially in the early days after technology unshackled itself from enterprises with big war chests and started to become affordable to small businesses in the 1990s.

Even when the “You’ve got mail!” sound bite and gazillions of shiny AOL CD-ROMs ushered in the internet era to consumers, I recall the prominence of the phrase “leave it to the IT staff” in the corporate world.

By the end of the first decade of the new millennium, the earlier perception of technology being for the IT staff and geeks to fix started to crumble. Younger generations, aka digital natives, started to embrace technology at the personal level when smartphones and other gadgets flooded the market with innovation. Older generations, aka digital immigrants, needed to do a complete 180 in how they relate with technology.

Although the phrase “strategic inflection point” is usually used in the context of organizational strategy, this personalization, aka consumerization, of technology required people to be digitally literate. To this day, many digital immigrants have successfully embraced this change of the mindset while many still struggle. For most digital natives, digital literacy has been as natural as breathing air.

The use of digital-world tools has become the preferred method for everything from communicating information about products and services to entertainment. Pop culture, or more appropriately the “societal norm,” has accepted and adjusted to how we communicate, buy, learn, entertain, and other things required of us to go about our day.

Where does the digital world begin and the real world end? Neither world begins nor ends as they coexist; actions you take in the digital world produce results in the real world and vice versa.   

So go ahead and open the gift to charge the battery of the device. In the next couple articles I will step you through some of the things you need to do to increase the chance of successfully ramping up the use of your new device. Remember, it’s all in your head – a mindset – and your brain is a powerful organ!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and an Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.08.2019