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Mentoring seniors to elevate their technology skills and a talking dog

I spent a few mornings mentoring individuals aged 70+ at a seniors home in Vancouver. The focus was on how to use a computer. Most participants had experience using a personal computer. However, they stopped using it because the system did not respond the way they anticipated resulting in frustration.

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A lady in her late 70s approached me and said she had been frustrated with an email she received. The email title was "Talking dog" and in the email there was a picture of a dog and some text underneath. She said the email says talking dog but the dog doesn't talk, why not? She told me that she tried everything. Restarting her computer, printing the email, sending the email to herself; the list went on. I could tell in her voice how frustrated she was by this and that she really wanted to see the dog talk. I explained to her that the email was inaccurate and there was no sound file attached that would allow the dog to talk. She insisted that the email subject would not be "Talking dog" if the dog could not talk. The only comfort I could provide was that maybe the sender made a mistake. I then showed her a video of a talking dog.

This experience made me realize that it is very difficult to predict the mental models of others. Instead you must get out and engage. I never knew the subject line "Talking dog" could cause so much frustration.


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