It came as a bit of a surprise, although observation should have told me otherwise.
Recent news articles report that older adults are as tech-obsessed as many of the teens.
It means I can no longer claim to be part of a majority of the older crowd that resists carrying a smart phone or wearing a watch that tracks vital signs.
Several research reports suggest the not-so-gentle shove to learn to use more electronic services and devices during the pandemic may have led to new habits. We mastered Zoom or FaceTime rather than miss out on connections with family and friends. We turned to the likes of YouTube to learn to make masks, quilts or other projects while confined to home.
Yet looking back, I recall even before the shut-down we would see white-haired heads bent over hand-held devices during intermissions at concerts, plays or musicals. They may have been checking news or text messages or playing games, whatever, but they were focused on a screen.
All of which suggests the well-worn cliché no longer is true that we elderly use only flip phones. At least three in five people over 65 in the nation now own smartphones, according to Pew Research.
The information came from a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,502 U.S. adults in early 2021.
At that time the research showed 95% of adults under 49 owned an internet-capable phone, 71% of people 65-74 and 43% among those of us who are older.
My husband and I are among the hold-outs. We are internet-connected at home, but our mobile device is, yes, a flip phone. We use it only when out of the house.
We are, I suspect, in the minority in this senior community. I’ve turned to neighbor older than I for photos and this month for assistance on a book-buying trip for the our volunteer-managed library here.
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The county library maintains a marvelous used-book store, where donations are sold at a budget prices. Last week we acquired several books published this year, as well as a number copyrighted in the last two years. All are in like-new condition and sold for $7 or less.
The catch was we had to make on-the-spot check of titles to avoid duplication of any books already on our library shelves. We use a internet catalog system. We access it on a desktop, a laptop or, of course, a smartphone. I can do the former, but don’t have the latter for in the store.
So I perused shelves for possible purchases while my neighbor checked our catalog on her smartphone.
She is part of that growing number of older Americans comfortable with the technology.
Their numbers skyrocketed during the pandemic, AARP reported, and the increase appears to remain.
“Certain tech behaviors formed during the pandemic appear to stay such as video chat, making online purchases, ordering groceries, banking, and engaging in health services with older adults making more purchases and financial transactions online compared to previous years,” the AARP report states.
Additionally, learning to use and manage smart home technology is a top interest of the 50-plus, as using smartphones to manage day-to-day living and entertainment, the report says. Additionally, in the last two years, more older adults are using wearables, electronic devices that can track, analyze and transmit personal data, everything from heart rate to sleep patterns. The latter, of coarse, has caused some concerns about privacy and the use of the data.
Additionally, while the pandemic spurred tech adoption among older people, it also caused them to develop some device dependence, research has revealed.
The Wall Street Journal last month interviewed families in which adult children observed it was their parents rather than their teens who were eyeing their screens at meal time.
Obviously, it doesn’t happen in our household.