AMAC In The Media / Press Releases / Technology

Senior Use of Smartphones, Computers, and iPads Is on the Rise

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WASHINGTON, DC, March 4 – It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Just look at how America’s seniors have adopted cellphones, computers, and laptops. Middle age children of today’s seniors may soon start complaining that their moms and dads are spending too much time online and on their iPhones, says Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC]. 

She notes that the 50-plus set has been adopting technology at a steady rate for years now, but the Covid pandemic has sped things up. A Pew Research study, she points out, shows that 73% of the 50 to 64 set and 45% of Americans 65 and older are familiar with and use social media sites.

Meanwhile, the Infocomm Media Development Authority [IMDA] tells us that a 2016 survey of seniors 75 years of age and older showed that just 11% of them were using smartphones, and the same survey conducted in 2020 showed that senior smartphone usage had skyrocketed to 60%. The same survey showed that only eight percent of 75-plus seniors were familiar with and used the Internet in 2016, and by 2020, 46% of super seniors were regularly online.

A lot of research has been conducted regarding the “hows” and “whys” of technology adoption among the elderly, according to the Journal of Geriatric Mental Health. They show that, “once their initial resistance of learning new technology was overcome- ‘enjoying the experience’ of using the mobile phone motivated them to use the device. Other contributory factors were ‘heightened self-esteem’ when they could perform certain chores by themselves such as paying bills or buying groceries or navigating around, and ‘feeling secure’ (because of various safety measures available on the cellphone), as well as more realistic, goal-directed outcomes such as information retrieval and communication. In addition, social influence or subjective norm in the theory of reasoned action research also influenced the use of mobile phones. Other studies too have identified different possible motivators for senior mobile phone use, including social influence, safety, security, autonomy, relatedness, and usefulness.”

Tiffany Esshaki, who writes for C&G Newspapers, reports that older folk have been slowly but surely embracing the fruits of technology and the pandemic helped speed things up for savvy seniors. Tiffany cites Molly McElroy, a 70-year-old resident of Auburn Hills, MI. According to McElroy,  “If you, like me, are a senior, which makes you a high risk for COVID-19, (social media) is how you carry on. You’re already limited at some level by age, driving less at night, and now you’re isolated. Or are you? Thanks to my hobbies — indolence and the Internet — I hardly feel impacted at all.”

Ageists will tell you that the elderly are not capable of navigating the intricate pathways of computer and smartphone communication. It’s not true. In a scholarly paper by Morgan Van Vleck, a Masters Research Fellow in Aging at Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, argues that the use of social media and technology by seniors is a welcoming development.

“The growing intergenerational nature of social media has been beneficial in allowing a place for people to build relationships based on common interests rather than age. The future of social media is an intergenerational one, with the aging population only set to increase. Instead of viewing a growing social media use among older adults as the “death” of these sites, it should be viewed as an avenue for possibility that arises when everyone is given a platform,” he says.


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Tony Young
8 months ago

This is true that senior are using technology like more. But not my friends. As a 78 year old l, I am an avid fan of technology’s with over 500 blog posts and 150 YouTube videos. Maybe I can convert them.

Pete M.
8 months ago

I don’t quite get this article. I’m 65 and have been using computers since the mid 80’s (and smart phones for about ten years) . How is it that seniors are just discovering them??

Roe
8 months ago

I am 75 and was working til Covid destroyed our business so my boss closed it down. I have been using computers since the WANG was first introduced and dos was the working search engine. I don’t even think we had internet for news, etc. I have desktop at home and use it everday for news, recipes, research etc. I have a cell but in case of emergency on the road. I don’t use it to text. What really bothers me is that it is assumed that everyone has a computer. For instance, during Covid you had on line doctors appts and still was charged the co pay. Now you are expected to check in before a vist either by cell or on line. I find that a nusance. It was considered at one time a luxury and the cost of owning and operating a computer at home is astronomical. Now it is a necessity. I was recovering from a hospital and ordered groceries on line and shopped. It helps to read alot and I heard reading alot helps prevent alzheimers. Something needs to be done to make it all accessible for seniors and the cost need to come down from over $200.00.

Roe
8 months ago
Reply to  Roe

$200.00 per month!

Kevin Deeb
8 months ago

This article is creative and informative. I actually look such website for our company. To consider this a burger is incorrect, provided with the information that a burger is made with beef, not marketing-lists-direct.com/plant products

Herb
8 months ago

I am 88 and use my computer and smartphone daily. Both are a source of endless frustration. The providers assume that everyone knows as much as the geeks who are running the process. A simple book of instructions that can be on the desk next to the device would be a boon to old newcomers.

I refuse to do online banking, simply because very often I can not get the system to do what I want and I don’t trust it.

Thomas Fennell
8 months ago
Reply to  Herb

Try the “for dummies” series of books.

Tony Young
8 months ago
Reply to  Herb

You’re right about instruction books. It seems that all new tech comes only with online instructions. Words on paper would be greatly appreciated!

E L
8 months ago

I am 65 and hubby is 68. We WERE the generation that brought you the internet! Hubby was a programmer in 1982. I taught computer classes in 1984. Anyone our age & older who doesn’t use media are either suffering from an illness or homeless.

Clark Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  E L

I am 64 and suffer from neither. I still have a rotary dial phone, thank you very much. And texting while owning a cellphone is like owning an airplane and towing it behind your car. ‘All the modern inconveniences’ – Mark Twain. By the way, THINKING (like remembering phone numbers) helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

E L
8 months ago
Reply to  Clark Kent

Oh yeah! Is frustrating for sure! So is searching the house for that little slip of paper that had the phone number you wanted on it! It’s all what we are willing to do to get and give to others, isn’t it? I am glad you replied tho, because I was doubtful. Thank you for reminding us one size doesn’t fit all. My hubby will not text. Unfortunately, he misses out on a lot of impromptu news & fun from our daughters and friends. Oh well.

Mario Capparuccini
8 months ago
Reply to  E L

I am 66 and still working as a hospital physician. All the doctors communicate by text, so texting is not optional. Also, I just learned a new electronic medical record that our hospital installed. Whether we like it or not, we must learn the new technologies.

Clark Kent
8 months ago

No, we don’t. But thanks for playing.

Clark Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  E L

Can your daughters and friends speak over the phone? It IS what they were invented for…

George Washington's Admirer
8 months ago
Reply to  Clark Kent

More power to you. I really love the old rotary dial phone. Going to find one somewhere; and hook it up. Its not little flat plastic boxes; its not about texting at the dinner table. Its about communicating at dinner with the ones in your family. Its about real face to face communication. Its not about voice mail, call waiting, texting, and android operators. Its about real honest to goodness face to face communication! I’m with you entirely.

HocasPocas
8 months ago

Hi Clark and G.W. Admirer, tried to give both of you a +, but I guess you’re not allowed one. I have to agree with the face to face real family time. I believe that’s what got us in this mess to begin with. You can’t teach your children and grandchildren by texting and facebooking them. Schools sure don’t teach them morals.

Sovereign
8 months ago

It is partly that seniors are learning new things, but mostly that people who already had the knowledge and skills are becoming seniors. Some of the millennials who write this crap are too dense to understand that it is normal for people to get older.

Barb
8 months ago

I just want to share that I was in my late 40’s when I attended a night class for adults to learn how to use “the then” Word Processor, which came before the computer. I was shortly thereafter hired to work for an attorney who was using a typewriter in his office. I explained what I knew about the Word Processor and opened his eyes to new technology which would help in his office and he then bought a Word Processor for me to use. I also learned how to use the computer when it came out and soon our office had a computer instead of a Word Processor. I feel like I contributed quite a bit to his office and to his law practice. I was and am proud of myself. :) I worked there for 20 years and retired at age 63 from that office in Sacramento, CA.

susabella
8 months ago

What??? We seniors have been using those devices since before the grandchildren were born. Why do so many younger than us think we’re nothing but little old people???? Not so.

Carol
8 months ago

Some of us seniors have been in the tech fields all our careers. These smartphones, tablets, and laptops have been used by a lot of us for some time. As we age we still communicate, play games, research, watch videos and TV on these devices. I like hearing that those who are discovering these devices at older ages find them useful too.

PaulE
8 months ago
Reply to  Carol

Yes, the stereotype of the clueless senior, completely ignorant of anything technology related, represents perhaps 2 to 3 percent of the overall senior population in this country. You really have search very hard to find someone fitting that stereotype. Some of us current seniors actually worked in the tech industry and helped to design and create the very technologies that modern society now completely relies on. The notion that all seniors are some sort of Luddites, incapable of operating modern technology, is ridiculous.

George Washington's Admirer
8 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Readily concur. The tech industry is a vital part of growth. However, it did not just pop into existence with the birth of the computer age. My Dad was a telegrapher for the Western Union during the Great Depression. He learned to send messages using Morse Code & Continental Code. He was a master of the art. He was also, a Ham Radio Operator. I still remember his ‘Call Letters’. He used to tell me that everyone had their own ‘fist’ style. He could identify a sender by their ‘fist’ style. Every ‘fist’ is unique; there is a certain tension and rhythm that identifies a sender. We would not have the current technology today;
without the invention of Morse Code. Would my Dad embrace today’s technology? You bet he would. However, once a telegrapher always a telegrapher. Once a Ham Radio Operator always a Ham Radio Operator. He went a long way in his day. Born in 1909 in a dirt floor log cabin, a triplet, wrapped in cotton, put in beehive boxes, then a warming oven; to become a telegrapher trained in Nevada City! So, my Dad was at the infancy of the very technology we see today. God Bless The Great History That Is This Country!

Clark Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Proud 2 to 3 percenter here! Luddites are going to survive a lot longer than those who can’t live without electronic gizmos. Bank on it.

E L
8 months ago
Reply to  Clark Kent

Well Clark, I’m a proud 2 to 3 percenter too, of “I won’t disclose what”, but don’t think we can’t live without our electronic gizmos. We still remember life before the gizmos, and have our backups, and our bug-out bags packed. We’ve seen it all and pretty much as ready as anyone can be for when the shtf.

George Washington's Admirer
8 months ago

Wanting one of those: Western Electric Antique Wall Mount Phones…One left over from either Kansas City or Dodge City! I’m old fashioned and love antiques. My adult kids have their face into their cell phones continually. Was using a cell phone for about a month; ten years ago. It never caught on with my lifestyle. Guess, I’m an old fuddy-duddy & a sweet ‘ole’ curmudgeon. I also, love Our Founding Fathers; and want their Statues put back where they belong! God Bless The USA!

Mike
8 months ago

Also increasing is smart watches. Getting reasonable and bluetooth connections to smartphones and tablets allows history retention.

Clark Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Be WAY, WAY more concerned with YOUR history retention by THINKING via your noggin in order to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Chris
8 months ago

“Senior Use of Smartphones, Computers, and iPads Is on the Rise”
Unfortunately, the cost of Smartphones, Computers, and iPads Is on the Rise.
Amac get your members a deal..

MariaRose
8 months ago

I am glad to see that the article stated that just because we are old doesn’t me we can’s learn new things. Of course, we may not understand the technical jargon used or be as swift in typing text replies, but we do enjoy how we can connect to the outside world.

Clark Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  MariaRose

Yup, via my landline phone. No dropped calls, no dead batteries. PERFECT!

George Washington's Admirer
8 months ago
Reply to  Clark Kent

There are those that would rather hold a real book in our hands; than a piece of plastic. Besides, how is the author going to sign his signature on a piece of plastic? Nothing like a signed book by Mark Twain. Nothing like talking to people face-to-face; and having a real conversation. Nothing like looking at people when you are talking to them at dinner; than having them stare endlessly into a little plastic box. The times they will change. Someday people will crave real communication.

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