5 Tips for giving an e-reader to the techno-challenged this Christmas

December 22, 2011

e-ReaderI know, I know, it’s hard to believe… but technology can scare some people.

E-readers are all the rage, but for some people, the joy of reading can be squashed by all the “little things” you need to do when you get a new digital device like an e-reader, iPad or a tablet.

If you are giving an e-reader to someone this holiday season, here are some tips to help the non-tech-savvy enjoy their first e-reading experience more:

  1. Charge the e-reader, so you are giving it with a full battery. That way, the fun of reading can begin right away.
  2. Set the date and time correctly. Fiddling with these types of settings can drive some people up the wall. Pre-setting this information can help your recipient skip the frustration and go right for the reading.
  3. Set up the wireless connection. If you are giving an e-reader to someone in your own household, set up the wireless connection beforehand. That means inputting the security code for the wireless router and testing it to make sure it works.
  4. Install any required software or do a software update. Installing or updating software can be frustrating for some people. Giving a device that is completely up-to-date and ready to use can help the recipient move quickly into using the device, rather than setting it all up.
  5. Create a “discovery experience” by including the gift of your time. Offer to spend an hour with your recipient to help them learn how to use their e-reader. Discover things about the e-reader together such as thow to change the text size, how to turn pages or how to buy a book online. Remember, this time is part of your gift — be patient, keep it light and fun and focus on the discovery of new skills, not what the recipient can’t do.

We have a raging debate in our house as to whether these steps should be taken before or after the gift is given. The other geek in the house thinks that the initial ripping into the packaging that shrouds a piece of virgin technology is a sacred experience and that opening the package beforehand is just sacrilege.

Personally, I think that if the recipient is a techno-phobe, the idea of unwrapping a new piece of technology is accompanied by an often silent and unvoiced, “Oh, crap. More technology.” By ever-so-carefully opening the package with the precision of a surgeon and taking care of the technical details before the recipient opens the gift, you are quietly giving the gift of disarming their trepidation before it becomes a reality.

But I probably think that because I have memories of some of the toys I received as a child at Christmas would magically come with batteries not only included, but installed. I remember how I felt being able to “play” right away. That’s a feeling I want to pass on with the grown-up gift of technology.

Regardless of whether you do these things before or after the gift is given, the point is that the easier and more fun you can make the reader’s initial experience with a new technology like an e-reader, the more likely the recipient is to continue to use the reader on their own.


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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