Blog | How Technology Can Help Independence

How Technology Can Drive Independence

‘There’s no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home’, so wrote Kenneth Olsen President and Founder of the Digital Electronic Corporation back in 1977. Well, time has proved him very wrong, so much so that almost everyone carries a pretty powerful computer around with them all of the time in the shape of a mobile phone.

Computerisation and miniaturisation have changed the way that we interact with the world and mostly that’s a good thing. It’s sometimes difficult to remember now how complex life used to be before we had access to everything at our fingertips and how dependent on others we were to help us.

Easier Access to Knowledge

In the past, something as simple as a homework assignment could involve considerable effort to research. Unless you were lucky enough to have a set of reference books at home (usually if your parents had been convinced by an encyclopaedia salesman to invest a vast amount of money in your academic future) you had to go to the library to find anything out.

For many these were daunting places where people wandered around speaking in hushed reverential tones as the guardians of knowledge (or librarians to you and I) patrolled the bookshelves to issue harsh words to anyone found trying to enjoy themselves. Finding the book you needed could involve deciphering the Dewey Decimal System to find out where your book was located or, in slightly more future thinking libraries, consulting the micro fiche! Once you had found the book you wanted you actually had to read a good chunk of it to find the material you were seeking. And if your book referenced another then the whole process had to start again.

Blog | How Technology Can Help Independence

Now all of that information is in the palm of your hand and alternative references are just a click away. You don’t have to spend time reading through a book to find the relevant part, more often than not a Google search will take you straight there.

Teasing Out the Truth

Naturally, challenges remain but they have morphed from ‘where do I find it’ to ‘can I trust it’. The skill set of the modern seeker after knowledge has changed. No longer is it a challenge to find information, the challenge instead is to sift that information and determine how much trust you place in the source of the information. The Internet is an ‘equal opportunity’ medium, anyone can put anything they like on the Internet. That does not mean it is all correct. The ability to judge whether a source is to be trusted is a key skill for children to acquire. As the X-Files used to say, ‘the truth is out there’ – you just have to find it!

Travel and Family Holidays Made Easier

Access to knowledge is not the only way in which technology has changed our lives. I recently went on a trip to America. It involved a number of plane flights, train journeys and hotel stays. I didn’t require the services of a travel agent nor did I take a single piece of physical paper with me for any of the reservations or tickets. All research and bookings were done online and all of the information I required to complete the trip was app based.

Blog | How Technology Can Help Independence

In the past, this would have required the services of someone to organise everything for me and for me to travel with a sheaf of paperwork to present to the various transport and accommodation providers I was booked with. The advantage is that I am now much more in control of my own destiny. I have the tools at hand to determine where I want to stay and how much I want to pay.

It avoids situations such as the one I suffered when our daughter was 1 years old. I wanted to book a trip to Egypt and asked the travel agent for somewhere ‘quiet’. We were booked into a hotel 2 hours from the airport, there were no shops and were an hour from the nearest pharmacy. The holiday started with us being put in an old car and driven through the night time desert without seat belts (or a baby seat) and with the car driving dangerously close to the one in front. Arriving at the hotel we found that the staff didn’t speak English and there was very little to do besides spending time at the hotel beach. A simple visit to TripAdvisor would have warned me ahead of time that this was going to be the case. We may still have chosen to go, but at least we would have known what we were in for!

Overcoming Technology Barriers

Of course, many people, particularly those who have special needs, find it difficult to access these types of online services without additional help. The multitude of choices, the complexity of booking processes and similar non-human assisted tasks can make the use of technology and online services daunting.

Blog | How Technology Can Help Independence

Technology can, however, help bring knowledge and control to many people who would have found these things more difficult to access in the past. The new generation of voice activated assistants such as Google Assistant or Alexa can provide beneficial support to the elderly, the disabled or those with learning difficulties as well as making things slightly easier for the rest of the population. 

These tools can be asked questions, can play music on demand, can remind you to take your medicine regularly and can control devices in your home. True, you need the money to invest in such gadgets but it can extend and enhance people’s independence more than ever before.

Parents To Guide Children Through the Mine Field

Technology is there to help. It can provide easy access to knowledge and information, it allows you more control of your life and can prolong your independence as you grow into old age. It comes with challenges, however, and these arise from its democratic approach. Anyone can put anything on the Internet but not all information is equally valid.

The skills that need to be learnt are about which sources to trust and which sources to reject. This is where our role as parents becomes important as we educate our children on how to find their way through the mine field of available knowledge.

Boost Young Minds

If you are considering an online coaching course to support yourself and your child, here are my tips for the road.

Embrace technology and the fact that you can access life changing courses online. Using this approach is an affordable option for most families. Equally, you are able to access the material 24-7, and you can revisit the valuable content as needed. Your child will welcome the anonymity as well as the chance for you to become closer while working together.

Pick a course and/or coach where online limitations have been addressed. For example, you may want to ensure that you are offered a personal approach like the ability to book 1-2-1 coaching if needed.

Simon

Simon

Simon, our in-house IT geek, has kindly shared some of his personal experiences and thoughts around technology and acquiring knowledge!

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3 Replies to “How Technology Can Drive Independence”

  1. You hit the nail on the head with regarding the things you cannot trust online. There is so much disinformation out there and if you are not paying attention, you can be led the wrong way. For children, or teens, that information can be damaging, so being able to sift through it all to find out the truth behind what you are seeking the answer to is a key process point.

  2. Technology has a great impact in every day life. Especially with kids, technology can be helpful in driving the independence. Not even worrying about the downside of technology, being able to navigate it at an early age has older parents struggling to help them out. In most cases, the children are helping the parents 🙂

    Great article!

  3. Its fun to watch how young kids react AND learn technology so fast. Once they learn how to “swipe”, it’s all over LOL. The bad thing is, most of the time they are not sure what they are swiping and that makes for a barrier needing to get around. Learning technology takes time, but if you spend time on it, the end result is great!

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