Pew Internet has just published a report titled - Older adults and technology use: Adoption is increasing but many seniors remain isolated from digital life.
Laurie Orlov has written a blog posting about the research. Her main conclusion is that as much as we would like to think that the older-old are taking to using smartphones and tablets and spending more time online the evidence suggests that isn't really so.
As I know from the UK, the older better educated are likely to use more technology than the poorer in cash and learning. But even the wealthy and well educated reject the digital world
One of the comments at the end of her blog caught my eye.
Honestly, so many tech gadgets are time wasters and too intrusive. My years are going by fast enough without wasting more time using gadgets I do not need. I use a computer at work because I have to, and for very little social networking with family and a few close friends. I don't have a smartphone, nor do I want one. Some of us aren't isolating ourselves, we just want some peace and quiet. We enjoy conversations (verbal) with real people and we still know how to read a map or directions, often arriving ahead of our GPS-using friends. We need not be constantly entertained, and we experience so much more of this world around us because we're not staring at tiny little screens all the time. We're not buying because we don't want to.
I have heard this sort of comment a hundred times. I can think of a few friends that share these views.
This comment reminded me of the tragic story this week of an older lady why took her own life because she hated the way that the world was moving - all gadgets etc etc
Coming back to this comment. This is clearly somebody who is on the same spectrum as the lady who committed suicide. This is somebody that looks around and doesn't like the world they see. You can see a strong line of rationalisation that their position is somehow superior by 'not isolating ourselves'..'we enjoy conversations'...'our map reading is better than GPS' ..'we don't constantly need to be entertained'..
Maybe it is a path that people take as they age? Whilst I know a lot about the physiological factors of ageing I don't profess to know the mysteries of how ageing impacts values. I suspect that there is no universal set of rules and what happens is that the characteristics that we had when we were 30 just become more extreme at 75. Also, the fear about not knowing and being in control of the levers of today's world means some reject them as being inferior.
What is certain is that there will remain a large group of older people who, for whatever reason, will remain disconnected to the digital world. However, they still spend money. That said, they might just become too expensive to reach.
Image via flickr