A Guide to Learning How to Navigate New Technology

Technology is changing at a breakneck pace, and it can be really difficult to keep up. Almost every aspect of our lives is now somehow connected to the use of technology, whether it’s banking, driving, shopping, or anything else you can think of. So how can you make sure you don’t fall behind when it comes to all the new processes, apps, and technologies out there? Well, here are a few ideas for how you can continually learn how to navigate the new technologies that will without a doubt continue to appear throughout your life. 

Do Some Pre-Research 

The first thing you can do might actually take place before any new technology hits your hands. You can do some research beforehand to really help orient yourself to whatever the new technology is. If you know a new product is coming out or if you plan to replace something you’ve had for years, even before you buy it, you can begin by researching some of the changes, updates, new features, etc. The world of online reviews has grown immensely with the ever-increasing use of the internet, so there is no shortage of sites or videos sharing any information you might need or want to know. 

Of course, as always with the internet, remember to take things with a grain of salt because most online reviews are really just personal opinions, and yours might differ. If you’re not a fan of listening to someone else’s breakdown of new technology or prefer to stay entirely objective, you might consider sticking to the source. New technologies are created by companies that most definitely want their products to be a success. So a great place to start when you need information on something new, is the company’s home site itself. 

Read the Instructions 

The next step might seem a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people ignore it. If you get a piece of new technology, spend some time reading the instructions. This is another objective source of key information that might help you (and others) down the line. Even if the technology happens to be online, for example, if you’re learning how to use software to pull credit, there will still be instructions for you to carefully read through and follow. If you’re having trouble finding them, remember to look for links to “help”, “FAQ”, or “troubleshooting”. You might also be able to find archived instructions online if you’ve bought a used product, so don’t give up hope there. 

Watch Some Videos 

Perhaps you watched some videos during your “do research” stage, but watching videos once you have the new technology in hand is even more valuable. There are billions of videos online these days, and many of them are aimed to help people feel more comfortable with various processes or technologies available today. You should definitely use these videos to your advantage. Sometimes reading the instructions or even being told the instructions over the phone or on the internet is just not enough. If you need a visual to make it stick, find one. 

Again, the videos you can find online by countless other users and individuals are great, but often the company itself will also have videos you can watch, especially for installation or the use of new products or services. Remember to check in multiple locations: the company’s website, product review sites, YouTube, etc. Also, when finding videos remember to pay close attention to the product names and numbers. With updated versions, there are often changes that might not appear in older videos, so be sure you’re looking at exactly the same item when following along with a video, or at least be aware of slight differences and what they might mean. 

Ask Questions 

Another key part of navigating new technology is to constantly ask questions. If you have people around you that are tech-savvy, don’t be afraid of tapping into their knowledge. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when learning something new, so ask away. Just be sure to do all the necessary tasks yourself, don’t let them jump in and complete the processes for you because you’ll likely not remember how to do it for yourself in the future. Likewise, with new products, if you know someone who already has, say, a Tesla, and you’re looking to get one yourself, asking questions is really just another form of due diligence. 

If you don’t happen to have anyone around you who knows or is familiar with a certain piece of technology or new product, remember there are also helplines available. Nowadays you can go directly to the source by phoning or instant messaging a hotline when needed; sometimes you can even find a chatbot to aid you with some of the details. Generally, these resources are available online or in the contact sections of either the company’s website or instruction manual. If you need help with something more general, there are also services like Geek Squad that have service lines you can call for any technical questions you might have. They can even have their technicians make house calls if you need additional, in-person help. 

Take Notes 

There’s a lot of information to keep track of when it comes to new technology. During and after all your research, instructions, and questions, a key piece of the learning puzzle is to remember all this new information. To this end, it would be wise for you to write down as much as you can about the steps you need to take, the names of various processes, etc. Some people prefer to have a journal of technology-related facts and figures, others keep their notes on their phones or even taped to the devices themselves. Whatever you need to remind you of the key details, make sure you have it available for future use. This will prevent you from having to redo all the previous steps again and again. 

On taking notes related to technology, it’s also important to be more detailed than you initially think is necessary. Our brains are great at remembering things in the short term, so you might feel like you completely understand the new universal remote you got, but after a few months of not using it, you will likely forget the majority of the steps necessary to reprogram it. So when taking notes and researching any new technology at hand, be detailed and remember that it’ll all seem completely unfamiliar to you in a few months, so try to avoid abbreviations, shorthand, etc.  

Give Yourself Time 

Another really important thing to remember during this learning period is to be kind to yourself and give yourself adequate time to really understand and remember the new information. Everything takes time, and this might be especially true if you find yourself outside your comfort zone or realm of familiarity. Don’t worry about the time it takes for the information to sink it, just work on finding ways to help yourself learn and retain more of the new knowledge and start feeling more comfortable with finding the answers and solutions on your own. 

Ultimately, even just by reading this article, you’ve shown how capable and determined you are to learn how to navigate new technology. The key to success lies in your ability to trust yourself and not be afraid to reach out to other resources for help in learning, not necessarily in doing. Be sure to do your research, read the instructions, watch videos, ask questions, take notes, and finally, relax and remember it just takes time.

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Nathaniel Villa
Nathaniel Villa
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