How much technology do you use?
Most older adults are behind the advancements in technology due to the fact they or may have little interest, have inadequate financial resources to purchase various forms of technology, or lack the desire learn about new technology. The internet plays a central role in connecting Americans of all ages to news and information, government services, health resources, and opportunities for social support. In April 2012 the Pew Research Center found that those 65 or older were internet users. 59% of seniors report they go online and 77% of older adults have a cell phone. In contrast 41% do not use the internet at all, and 23% do not use cell phones. Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week.
The internet however is not the only technology available. Smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers devices are becoming increasingly popular. The proportion of older adults who own either a tablet or an e-book reader is actually larger than the proportion owning a smartphone. Some 27% of seniors own a tablet, an e-book reader, or both, while 18% own a smartphone.
Moving on to social networks 19% of older adults today use social networking sites such as Facebook.
Although the reports show a steady incline of use of various technologies, there are some barriers older adults face when using modern technology including physical challenges or health issues. Another barrier is skeptical attitudes about the benefits of technology. Older adults who do not currently use the internet are divided on the question of whether that lack of access hurts them or not. 49% of non-users agree with the statement that “people lacking internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,”. But 35% of these older non-internet users disagree that they are missing out on important information. The most common barrier to technology is the difficulty of learning how to use various technical platforms. Just 18% of older adults would feel comfortable learning to use a new technology device such as a smartphone or tablet on their own, while 77% indicate they would need someone to help walk them through the process. As well as 56% of older adults say they would need assistance with sites that connect them to friends and family such as Facebook or email.
Do you own a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader? Do you have access to a computer with internet? How important is it to stay on top of new technology? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
By Julia Conlan