How the older generation are becoming tech savvy
Do you constantly hear about this new-fangled thing called “the Internet” and wonder what on Earth all of those young people are doing on their phones all day? Or are you Skyping, Youtubing and Facebooking with the best of them?
If you fall into the latter category, you are part of an increasingly large demographic of genuinely tech savvy older people. So many people in their 60s, 70s or beyond don’t just have an Internet connection now – they are using it with enthusiasm to continue living their lives to the full.
Here are just some of the ways in which the older generation are truly living up to their ‘silver surfer’ billing.
Major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are no longer the preserve of young people, with the more silver-haired generation now using such platforms for everything from keeping up to date with what their grandchildren are up to, to engaging in political debate.
In an age in which different members of one family often live far apart from each other, perhaps even in different countries, social media can do so much to bring them together.
You might use your own Facebook account to view the latest photos that your loved ones have uploaded of themselves, chat to each other about life in general or perhaps even ‘like’ pages dedicated to certain subjects or pages of interest.
Naturally, you might still love to walk around an actual high street shop like in the old days, but this might be difficult to do if you have mobility problems, are inconveniently located or just can’t afford transport. This is where online shopping has proven a godsend in recent years for many pensioners.
Shopping on the web takes away all of the aforementioned worries. All that you need to do is have an Internet-connected computer – perhaps even a portable device like a smartphone or tablet – in order to browse online for goods, purchase them and arrange for their delivery to your home.
Many older people quickly realise that searching for big discounts online is a big pleasure in itself – Amazon voucher codes offering discounts on everything from books to beauty products are very much the modern equivalent of the cut-out money-off coupons that many OAPs remember from newspapers and magazines back in their youth.
It is well-documented just how many older people suffer from loneliness, and the Internet has certainly long helped to give them social contact again. Online dating sites are a key frontier here, making it possible for bereaved grandparents to find love again.
Nor does online dating have to make you feel like an old fogey among all of those hip, cool and pretty young things, given the proliferation in recent years of dating sites that are dedicated to the silver-haired love-seeker.
You may love reading books as much as you ever did, but your eyesight may not be what it once was, and you may still be nostalgic for the days of audio cassettes that enabled you to listen to a narrator reading your favourite book.
Well, those days haven’t gone – it’s just that the medium has changed! Thanks to the wonders of MP3 and other modern file-based audio technology, you can now listen to your beloved tome – whether it be a celebrity autobiography, a textbook of some kind or a compelling piece of fiction – via a smartphone, tablet or similar device.
All that you need to do is buy the audio version of the book, download it to your device, turn up the volume and place the device in a convenient location. You can then contentedly listen to it even while in the bath, just like in the old days, without worrying about dropping your book in the water.
With all manner of video calling software like Skype and FaceTime now available that enables those based in any part of the world to contact another person based in any other part of the world, there really is no excuse not to use technology to keep communicating with your loved ones.
Such software packages are easy to sign up to and use, and make silver surfers feel like they are sitting in the same room as the person they are communicating with. Combine such a service with a high quality webcam, and there will be no reason for you to feel nostalgic about the lost days of letter writing.
If all of the above doesn’t convince you of the relevance of technology to your life as an older person, we don’t know what will! Read this insightful BBC article from 2012 on the opportunities and issues that confront the elderly as they seek to get tech savvy.