Are you scared of technology? 5 tips to survive in the 21st century

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Digital technology can be overwhelming. Every day we hear of some new gadget, app or software that we need to understand, upload or buy. If you’re the type who would rather use a typewriter than a computer, read on.

Why is it important to get over your fear?

Digital technology has become necessary not only for work, but in everyday life. We bank, buy, communicate, pay our taxes and avail of government services online using a computer. Technology now also sets the pace at which we conduct our business, perform our duties, learn about the world, gain skills, and create relationships with others. It’s hard to avoid technology in this day and age if you think about it.

Being averse to technology is not bad but it can be a drawback. You may have personal reasons not to like technology. For example, some feel that they lose control when they use it, while others are scared of being vulnerable, especially with the possibility of personal information being hacked. However, not being tech-savvy can make it harder for you to cope with responsibilities at work, school, or even in the social sphere. You may miss out on tools that can make your work or your life more efficient. You can be susceptible to scams and frauds if you are not tech-savvy. Plus, it will be hard for you to protect your kids from possible dangers if you don’t understand the risks.

Here’s the thing: We often fear what we don’t know. To handle digital technology, learn more about it. Discover what’s good about it. Unlock the mystery, so to speak. It helps to remember that it is a tool. How effective or beneficial it will be depends on how you use it.

5 tips on handling technology:

  1. Be open

    Most technophobes I know are averse to using certain gadgets or software because of preconceived notions. They might say: “It’s too technical for me,” “I’m just not a tecchie” or “I’m old, it’s not for me.” Then there are those who believe that online activities are impersonal despite not having tried them. By focusing on the negatives, you miss out on discovering the positives. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wise to view technology critically, because, let’s be honest, not everything is good for us. What being open means is to approach technology with curiosity and objectivity. Don’t knock it until you try it! Learn about its features and know how it can help you. You might just discover that it’s useful for you. If it’s not, then at least you learned something new and now have a logical basis for objecting to using a specific technology.

  2. Ask when you don’t know

    It can be embarrassing to ask questions, especially when it’s a type of technology that everyone seems to use. Ask anyway. It’s much more embarrassing to stay in the dark and be seen as someone who doesn’t want to learn. But if you really don’t want to ask your colleagues or friends, ask Google instead. You can also check a manual or book, or look for “help” or read FAQs on a website menu.

  3. Just do it!

    Seeing so many options, functionalities and buttons on a new gadget or software can be intimidating. Don’t panic. The best thing to do is to start small. Think of a simple task that you can accomplish and follow the steps to do it from a manual or tutorial. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Just keep exploring. Most software are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. There is a logic to how tasks are accomplished. You will discover this with repeated use. Of course, you can always enroll in a class (either face-to-face or online) if you need more guidance.

  4. Be self-directed

    I was observing my nephew play Minecraft and was amazed not only by how he knew how to navigate the game, but at how he used so many hacks and shortcuts. When I asked him how he learned these tricks, he told me that he watches YouTube tutorials and subscribes to online gamers’ channels. He also joined an online group of Minecraft afficionados where he asks questions and shares what he knows to help improve everyone’s game.

    Today’s learners do not depend only on traditional sources of information. They explore online resources and communities of learning such as social media/special interest groups, blogs, MOOCs (massive open online courses), personal learning networks (PLN), and others. They seek information actively and share what they know generously. Nowadays, there is nothing you can’t DIY (do-it-yourself) as long as you’re curious and willing to learn.

  5. Use technology often

    Your confidence and digital literacy grows as you use technology. Hands on practice provides you with tactile and visual cues that help you become comfortable with exploring functionalities. Handling them becomes second nature to you with repeated use. You may even discover later on that you already had the soft skills to use the technology, all you needed to do was to let go of fears and give it a try. Give yourself time and you will be as digitally proficient as any tecchie you know.

Sources: 8 ways to overcome your technology fears so you can work remotely, Rachael Pasini, Virtual Vocations; Overcome your fear of technology and upgrades, Mark Schwartz, Monster; and Technophobia is a fear related to the loss of control, Lisa Fritscher, verywellmind. Accessed December 6, 2019.

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