At home with technology

By Rupal Thanawala

Families celebrating birthdays on video conferences, kids studying via e-learning, buying groceries online, consulting doctors on tele-visits, working from home or applying for unemployment benefits, these are becoming new routines during “shelter-in-home” to stay connected, efficient and informed. However, there are just too many new gadgets and information that can be overwhelming for those who are not comfortable with technology.

Here are a few tips to help you.

Cybersecurity — First thing first, please pay extra attention to security on both the computer and mobile device. Create a long complex password with characters, symbol and numbers. Set up (really hard) challenge questions in your profile that are not easy to guess. Enable two-factor authentications so that a separate code is sent to your phone or email to complete sign-in process. Additionally, you can set up your device for touch screen or face recognition for sign in. Do not open links or suspicious mails. Cybercrimes have increased significantly in the past four weeks. 

Connectivity — It is also important to have a fast, reliable and safe internet connection at home as everyone is hunkered down and the data consumption of cell phones can be expensive. Comcast, Charter, Spectrum and many service providers are offering free 60-day service during this time. You can also check out school websites for efficiency software and programs that can be accessed for free. 

Students — Classrooms are transformed and educational content is delivered via various e-learning platforms such as video conferencing, school websites or lesson notes sent as links. Make sure your students are accessing content delivered from school resources only and remain focused during study time. It is a new way of learning and students may find it harder to be engaged as they miss their familiar classroom environment.

Small business owners — Many small businesses are struggling to stay relevant or have been temporarily shut down. Use the time to set up your business’ Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, build a mobile app or even a website. Most of the social media platforms are free so you can promote your products or services, send messages to your customers and collect orders. However, there are many do-it-yourself like tools available to build mobile apps and websites for a very small hosting fee where you can enable an online store as well.

Emotional and physical well-being — It is even more important to stay physically and mentally fit during this time. Set up a video chat with family and friends using tools such as Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and other tools (there are too many to list). It is hardest for the seniors so use creativity to engage them. You can play music together, set up a workout session, learn a family recipe or celebrate special occasions virtually.

Professional development — If you have downtime, think about learning new skills so you can jumpstart your career in new direction or upskill yourself in your career track. There are many universities and organizations offering free courses including Eleven Fifty Academy offering free coding courses.

Rupal Thanawala is managing partner of Trident Systems and technology editor for Recorder Media Group. Contact her at rupalt@indyrecorder.com.