As I get older, I have grown to realize I’m a scaredy cat. Activities like using a PlayStation console for the first time, or adapting to an iPhone that doesn’t have a home button scare the heck out of me.
I am constantly in awe of my teenagers’ tech prowess and the flippant way my 16-year-old son tackles learning to use a new gadget.
When it comes to fear of technology, I know I’m not alone. My friend won’t watch Netflix unless her daughter is home to work the television remote for her. When I asked her why she doesn’t learn how to use it, her answer was “It’s too complicated!”
But is it? Why are we so afraid to do what are kids do with technology and just figure it out?
The answer to why we get afraid of technology is simple:
Technology makes us feel out of control.
A 2015 Survey of American Fears found technology came in second for what scares us, right behind natural disasters.
Researcher Christopher Bader, a professor of sociology at Chapman, told The Atlantic: “You can no longer make it in society without using technology you don’t understand to buy things at a store, to talk to other people, to conduct business. People are increasingly dependent, but they don’t have any idea how these things actually work.”
How I’m overcoming my fear
About a year ago, I went back to school for my Masters in Mass Communications/Social Media.
At the beginning when I was learning video editing or how to use Prezi, I would break out in a sweat and scream for my teenagers. “Help me out over here will you?” And, over they would saunter over knowing that I was second away from turning into a crazy lady. It got so bad I felt like they should stay home from school just incase I needed them.
Yet, my biggest takeaway from going to back school as an adult hasn’t been anything I learned in my classes. It has been that if I’m patient with myself and don’t give into frustration, I can overcome my fear of technology and teach myself how to do almost anything.
Someone else out there is struggling with technology, too
Every day I remind myself that no one is an expert on everything and new technology challenges even the most savvy users. There are now smart watches that receive email, cars that drive themselves, headsets that allow you to see a mixed reality and phones that recognize our faces. Who knows what’s coming next!
The key to getting past our instinctual fear of technology is knowing this: There’s a reason there are delete and undo buttons,YouTube tutorials and backup files. When it comes to digital gadgets or gaming devices, chances are by playing around and figuring it out, you won’t break it or screw it up and you will be super proud of yourself for learning how to use it.
So in the new year, let’s adopt the mindset of the younger generations: Click, drag, download, press buttons. Just try it. What’s the worst? We can always pour ourselves a glass of wine and call tech support — or a teenager!