Over50 and Tech-Savvy

Technology use is growing by mind-blowing percentages each year. Cell phones and computers are fast-becoming necessities of everyday life. Many over 50 have recognized this trend and are embracing the future.

In the mid-80s, my father, already retired and in his mid-60s, got into personal computers. He had no real reason to learn them, and they weren’t as fast or as friendly as they are nowadays. Still, he joined a users group, read the books and even got me to buy one. When I asked him why, he simply said, “computers are the future, and I don’t want to be left behind.” Fathers really do know best, don’t they.

Today, it’s tough to stay in contact with your friends or even manage your finances without understanding something about technology, and it’s only going to get more so. In a 2010 Media Industry Fact Sheet prepared by Nielsen Company, the technology usage numbers are staggering…and accelerating. According to the report:

• There are 223 million cell phone users over the age of 13, and 25% of the mobile devices sold during Q3 of 2009 were smart phones. That is estimated to go up to between 40-50% during 2010.

• There are nearly 115 million households in the US with at least one TV, and the average American watches that TV about 31.5 hours each week. Of these households, about 30% of them actually have four or more televisions.

• There are about 195 million active internet users, and the time spent on social networking sites has increased 277% since last year. Nearly 60% of adults in the US have two or more computers.

• 73% of households have a gaming device, with XBox, Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii respectively making up the top three gaming consoles owned.

Where does the 50 and over crowd fit in the technological equation?

That depends. According to a recent AARP study, “a full 89 percent of people age 50 and older own some type of mobile technology” and 87 percent of them take it with them when they leave the home. Some do so for business purposes, but most want it handy for themselves or loved ones in case of emergencies.

Another AARP study, entitled “Social Media and Technology Use Among Adults 50+” reports that 40% of adults aged 50 and over consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet, with those under the age of 65 being twice as likely to feel that way. Hispanics over the age of 50 fared much worse. Only 17% of those being surveyed say they do not use the Internet at all.

Obviously, as Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changin’.” So what does this mean to those of us over 50?

Stay tuned for Part II of this two-part series to find out.

 

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