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How to be a good buddy

Buddying is a people skill

When I ask people if they might be interested in becoming a techy tea buddy, they often pull a look of horror and say something like "I couldn't do that, I don't know enough about the internet!". I usually ask them if they can do a Google search, if they can send emails and text messages. They usually admit they can do things.  "Well you qualify, then" I respond. "If you can do those things you have the technical skills required. There's only one skill you need on top of that - PATIENCE".

People don't often realise how inexperienced people over 65 are with internet use. They also don't realise that the major barrier to elderly people learning is fear. A recent report produced by the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom research project found that 

  • older people are much more likely to be afraid of breaking something when they use tablets or laptops. Whereas 6% of student report having this fear, and 16% of the employed, 45% of older people report being afraid of this
  • 43% of older people say they feel technologies can't be trusted because they fail at important times, compared with 15% of the employed and 5% of students [1]

Quite often, as a buddy, all you have to do is encourage an older person to have the confidence to carry out the action they are thinking of without worrying too much about the consequences. That's why we make our clubs informal and social. It helps to create an easy-going and friendly environment, not one focussed on targets or using classroom style teaching. We don't make a distinction between students coming to learn, or coming for social reasons. They are all part of the same thing, as the purpose is to make using tablets and laptops feel like a normal activity which we are all included in. Inducing this feeling is the key to buddying.

[1]Poverty and Social Exclution Report