The technology gap of old vs. young

An iPhone. Via Flickr user Florin Hatmanu.

An iPhone. Via Flickr user Florin Hatmanu.

Until she got an iPhone, my grandma maintained a physical address book instead of keeping phone numbers on her cellphone.

On Facebook, my dad doesn’t understand the difference between a status update, a timeline post, and a message.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain the word “meme” to people.

It’s the technology gap, that stereotypical lack of tech know-how that is attributed to people above 40. Not everyone under 40 is tech-savvy; not everyone over 40 is in the dark. But there’s sure a trend.

We’ve all seen these people. They don’t know how to work their own phones. They try to comment on someone’s Facebook timeline only to post a status saying, “How are you, Bob?”

Invariably, these people tend to be older.

I wonder if this technology gap existed before personal computers and social media. Go back 50 years, and there was less technology that the average person had to deal with. No computers, tablets, mobile phones, or social media. There was the home phone. The camera.

Anything else?

I suppose until now, there wasn’t so much technology to have a gap with.

Older people say to me that our generation has an easier time because we grew up with all these wonderful gadgets. This always makes me think of my college professor who taught a class about creating apps for mobile phones. He knew everything about consumer technology, had all the latest gadgets, and was patient enough to teach me when I didn’t understand a lesson (which wasn’t a rare occurrence).

The professor was in his early 70’s.

Age doesn’t necessarily need to preclude someone from understanding technology. The fact that someone didn’t grow up with the technology doesn’t mean he can never learn it. Technology and social media are like anything else — put in a little time and effort, and you’ll get the basics.

I wonder: When my generation gets older, will we have such a wrangling with technology as some of our parents and grandparents do? Will we adapt if Facebook and Twitter give way to other websites? Or will we cling to what we know?

I’ll get back to you in 40 years.

  1. Azevedo said:

    I don’t think that people have to catch up with things. Those are the one’s who struggle. Your teacher simply was so involved with technology as you were, the difference was that you got your first phone at age 15 and he got it at age 60. He probably has more advantages because he dealt with previous versions.
    Only the people who don’t get into the technology bandwagon are left behind.

    • You don’t have to get on “the bandwagon” early to understand the basics. You just need to invest some time. Most consumer technology that’s used on a daily basis is relatively simple to navigate.

      • Azevedo said:

        Of course but if you don’t want it enough, you won’t learn. Tech savvy is not a requirement for people going into retirement.
        I was just saying that older people also grow-up with technology, but latter in life.

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