'It's a whole new world': Technophobic Kiwis take up the challenge to get connected

  • 30/06/2021
  • Sponsored by - Chorus
Georgie and Ted Grant. Photo credit: supplied
Georgie and Ted Grant. Photo credit: supplied

Whether it's an aunt unable to locate apps on her smartphone, parents forever muting on Zoom or a colleague who can't figure out their emails, we all know someone challenged by technology.

But as everyday life grows increasingly digitised, everything from grocery shopping to movie nights with the family can require at least a basic amount of tech literacy.

In this multi-part web-series called Challenge Accepted, Chorus partnered with Newshub to get technophobic or just techsceptic Kiwis to overcome their fears and experience the extraordinary benefits technology offers in 2021.

Kiwis like Georgie and Ted Grant from Mosgiel, both in their early 70's and who by their own admission have 'very limited' engagement when it comes to online life. And they aren't alone. 

According to BNZ's Digital Skills report, approximately 700,000 adult Kiwis lack the essential know-how to use the internet safely and effectively. 

Chorus challenged Ted and Georgie to put on an evening for their family, with one cooking and one providing the entertainment. To give them a leg up into the online world, Chorus provided Ted and Georgie with ultra-fast fibre, New Zealand's reliable and speediest broadband, along with some brand new devices.

Ted was in charge of movies through streaming from an iPad to a Chromecast connected to the living room TV. Simple enough for a teenager but a bit trickier for Ted who, like many New Zealanders, grew up in an entirely different world.

"We didn't see anything like [these devices] for the first half of our lives." 

According to Chorus Consumer Marketing Lead Kate Murchison, helping people overcome their technophobia, or improve in any other kind of area, is really about helping them help themselves. 

"If you've ever tried to help a family member with their devices, you often get a bit frustrated after a while and you end up just doing it for them, which doesn't help them learn," she said.  

"And so what we tried to do is highlight the fact that there's a bunch of organisations and support available."

Organisations like SeniorNet, who provide older Kiwis with a helping hand in learning tech basics, and helped Chorus to make sure Ted and Georgie's night went off without a hitch. 

Shane Boyle from SeniorNet says the good natured frustration we can feel when teaching older friends and whanau how to use their tech is understandable but counterproductive.

"Seniors typically come along to us and say 'I'm dumb, I don't understand this stuff'. But they're not. You just have to start at the basics and give them a step by step approach."

It wasn't always smooth sailing. Some lost passwords and accidental overorders on groceries caused a few issues but both Ted and Georgie were determined not to give up.  

In the end they both overcame their fears, put on a wonderful evening for their family and learned some valuable new skills in the process. And now they say they're just getting started.

"It was a wonderful experience, I achieved things I never thought I'd be able to. It's just great, really pleased with myself...It's a whole new world for us," says Georgie. 

Kate says everyone can take a page from Ted and Georgie's book.

"If you're finding something difficult, just to find that little bit of support to help you give it a go on your own makes all the difference. It may not work the first time, you know, but actually you'll feel so good that you've tried." 

Even Ted, who plonked the last three phones he was given into a drawer and never touched them again has turned the corner.

"I think I might even go and buy myself a phone!"

But Georgie puts it best.

"It's amazing what you can do online now, isn't it?"

You can follow Ted and Georgie's journey by heading to the Chorus YouTube channel. Or visit chorus.co.nz/digital-support-directory to find a list of digital support resources available to help get you started. 

This article was created for Chorus.