A new study shows that seniors are increasingly connected online, but the tech divide grows among older, poorer and disabled seniors.
You probably won’t see your grandparents posting selfies or tweeting anytime soon. But a new study says that America’s senior citizens are embracing technology, slowly but surely.
The key findings of the Pew Research Center’s “Older Adults and Technology Use” include:
- About 3 in 4 seniors have cellphones.
- Nearly 60 percent of older adults use the Internet, a 6 percent increase from this time last year.
- Half of seniors have high-speed broadband access at home.
- Only 27 percent of seniors use social networking sites.
According to Pew, two groups of senior citizens emerged during their research. The group that embraces technology tends to be younger, more highly educated and more affluent. The second group, mainly composed of older, poorer and disabled folks, remains mostly disconnected from the digital world, “both physically and psychologically,” Pew said.
Once senior citizens get online, 79 percent agree that people without Internet access are at a real disadvantage in the modern world. Older Americans, especially those with disabilities, could benefit the most from Internet services but are the ones left most in the dark.
One issue that prevents many older Americans from using technology is not knowing how to use it. Just one-sixth of seniors said they felt comfortable learning to use a new gadget on their own, while 77 percent said they would prefer to have someone else walk them through the process.
My 63-year-old dad, a retired railroad engineer, has no clue how to use a computer, let alone how to log onto the Internet. He has an old-school style flip cellphone that he never uses. He didn’t have to use a computer in his job, and I don’t think he has any interest in learning to use one now. My mom bought him a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I don’t think it’s even out of the box yet.
And then there’s my mom, who taught herself how to use a computer in her 40s after she made sure all five kids were in bed. Now retired, you will rarely see her without her iPhone and iPad in hand.
What do you think of the senior population’s migration to technology? Do you think those who are digitally disconnected are at a disadvantage? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.