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Connecting digitally – coronavirus advice

The internet and digital technology can be invaluable for staying in touch with family and friends, as well as helping with everyday tasks such as shopping, ordering prescriptions, and banking.

What technology can help us do

You may be surprised at how much you are able to do online. You can use the internet to connect with other people and carry out tasks such as shopping, dealing with the utilities, and connecting with public services such as the GP surgery, pharmacy and the local council. The internet can also be a great source of entertainment with games, TV and radio available.

At the moment, activities that usually take place in person are now happening online. It might be worth speaking to the organiser of any local groups you previously attended to see if they're now hosting the group online. There are many examples of people hosting exercise classes online, or holding virtual meetings with their book clubs.

This means know is the perfect time to improve your digital skills.

If you need a bit more support, there are organisations who can help.

Staying safe online

Accessing the internet can expose us to online scammers, so it's important to be vigilant. Here are some ways you can stay safe.

How to make video calls

Video calls using a computer, smartphone or tablet are a great way to contact family and friends, to see them while you chat.

Helping older friends and family get online

It can be hard to stay in touch with older friends and family if they aren’t connected to the internet. You may want to speak to them about getting an Internet-enabled device so you can chat more easily. 

It's good to think about what they will want to use their device for and how confident they feel with technology. Think about what device they will find easiest to operate - remember that some older people might find touchscreens difficult to use as they might not have the dexterity to touch a very small part of the screen.

If they just want to make video calls, there are devices available with simplified controls to make it easier, and some increase security by specifying the people who can connect through the device. It’s important to do your research to work out what is best suited to their needs and budget.

Getting an online connection

If the person doesn’t have a broadband connection it’s possible to connect to the internet through small devices that take a ‘data only’ sim card, which gives out a signal that your device can connect to. Some devices have their own sim cards to do this.

Top tips for family and friends

If you are trying to help someone with a new device or tech questions, you may find the following tips useful:

  • Make sure you know what they want to achieve - don’t overcomplicate things too early.
  • Make sure you know how the device works so you can show them effectively. Lots of devices have online tutorials which you can explore on older people’s behalf.
  • Be aware that different people have different learning styles and get the balance between demonstrating, providing instructions and answering questions that suits the individual.
  • Don’t make any assumptions about what they already know.
  • Be patient, don’t overload and make sure you go at the pace of the learner.
  • Be ready to repeat a learning session and respond to queries that come up as they start using the device on their own and come up with questions.
  • Avoid jargon – not everyone knows what ‘apps’ are or how you ‘swipe’.

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Last updated: Apr 20 2021

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