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We Need to Have a Different Conversation About Seniors and Technology #DigiBlogChat

Technology is a resource and a tool of growing necessity. Regardless of age. It’s clear that we need to be having a different conversation.

I am 58, and my father is 78. He is a “senior” and I soon will be. We both use tech for work. He brought our first computer into our home in 1980. We had Intellivision and Nintendo too. Some of my clients are in their late 70s. Some of my students are in their 80s. Depending on their work experience they have either had a great deal of exposure to tech, or not.

Who is a “senior” and who is not? Our access to technology is dependant on other demographics than age. Usually it’s about money and education. The country and city in which we live. Our schools. Our jobs. Access to the internet.

Everyone’s use of technology should also be seen within the correct context. We may be surprised that someone does not use a smartphone or is active on social media or streams netflix. That does not mean they are wrong in not doing so.

Tech is a tool. Not everyone has a Cuisinart. A tool solves a problem. If someone does not have a problem, they do not require a tool. Our expectation that everyone is plugged in, can discolour our perceptions of people who are not. Ageism, racisim, sexism, and other stereotypes and expectations continue to plague us.

It’s easy to see who is a toddler or a teenager. “Seniors” make up a much larger part of our society, and the demographic spans at least thirty years; roughly from age 60 to age 90. Reverse that and it would be like saying everyone from birth until the age of 30 is the same demographic. Let’s call them “Juniors”. Can you imagine that happening? As society ages, there are a growing number of seniors who continue to work after retirement age.

Seniors Find Tech More to Their Liking in Today’s World

“For many seniors it’s the same old story that has not aged well. Your “experience” shows you have seen and done many things, which means you are ancient.” James Katzman on Tealfeed summed up our chat in his post. “Age is just a number for those who want greater equality.”

#DigiBlogChat Seniors Use of Tech

Hot on the heels of my last post about seniors and tech, I joined Carole Stephen and others August 9th, on Twitter’s #DigiBlogChat to talk Seniors Use of Tech.

Q1. How old is a senior? What does “senior” mean to you? 

A1. Such a good question! At 58 I am pretty much a senior. My father is 20 years older. Who is the Senior? As we live into our 90’s I think it’s become a meaningless term. “Toddlers” is still a meaningful age group, as are “Teens”. – but “Seniors”? #DigiBlogChat

Q2. What kinds of issues do seniors have with technology?

A2. I think this depends on two things – work experience and finances. I see two distinct groups of “seniors” those with money and experience using tech, and those without who are marginalized. This is no different than any other age group. #DigiBlogChat

Q3. What could and do seniors use the internet for?

A3. Aside from work-related reasons, the same things for which we all use tech. Social, health, information, learning. Probably making life easier is at the heart of Seniors use of tech. Connections, health care, smart home solutions. #DigiBlogChat

Q4. How does ageism manifest itself in your experience?

A4. My children think I grew up in the 1800s. It’s ironic that I can build a website while they can only use a website. The same with computer games. Getting a job after 50, in my circle, is impossible. But I do not yet qualify for Senior’s portions at restaurants. #DigiBlogChat

Q5. How do seniors use technology in their work lives?

A5. How do seniors use technology in their work lives? A5. I think the same as everyone else. Less so perhaps for Social Media. Hard to say being an old person in a “young person’s job”. The great David McCullough used a typewriter until his dying day. #DigiBlogChat

Q6. Name one struggle seniors might have with tech?

A6. Which tech? Computer games or smart homes? I think the same struggles as younger people. Tech is not as inclusive as it is sold to be. It requires money. Access to resources. The elderly may not have those resources. #DigiBlogChat

Q7. What are some benefits seniors could gain from using technology?

A7. Technology reduces physical boundaries, which for seniors is an advantage – as it is for non-seniors. The ability to treat disease and where necessary to prolong life. To recapture lost things. To enable us physically and mentally. #DigiBlogChat

Q8. Could technology help seniors gain more freedom? How?

A8. It can assist remove physical and mental boundaries. This may however be dependent on financial resources, location, and other opportunities. Freedom is a funny word. #DigiBlogChat

Q9. What are some ways seniors could have more social interactions using technology?

A9. Social media allows anyone the chance to connect with friends and family regardless of their physical location. An amazing advantage over Seniors thirty years ago. Also physical opportunities offered through the added mobility of e-transport and co. #DigiBlogChat

Q10. Would seniors be more safe and secure if they used technology more? How?

A10. Knowing who is at your front door before you go to it is nice. Paying bills without leaving the house with a pocket full of cash? But, who polices technology? E-Prescriptions are not yet a thing in the EU. This could be “safer medicine” and not just for Seniors #DigiBlogChat

With thanks for the image to: rawpixel.com – de.freepik.com

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