Friday, June 8, 2012

Senior citizens are more tech-savvy than you think

OK, I admit it. I have been guilty of making the assumption that a person's age is somehow linked to their willingness to use technology. I have two prime examples in my in-laws. Neither one of them has any interest in using email, let alone Facebook. Even the digital camera is pushing it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are my mother and stepfather, whom I have always thought of as a bit extraordinary when it comes to using technology. I doubt they would even think of having "just" a phone call with my nephew and niece in California. Its videochat or nothing, now!

It turns out that my mother and stepfather have way more in common with others in their age group than I imagined.

A new report from Forrester Research suggests approximately 60 percent of U.S. adults who are aged 65 or older are now online. Of those, 91 percent use email, 46 percent send and receive digital photos, and almost half have a Facebook account.

The common motivator when it comes to digital seniors is an interest in connecting with family and friends, Forrester reports. Approximately seven in 10 of those surveyed by Forrester (the research is part of its ongoing North American Technographics benchmark study from late 2011) say that family is the most important thing in their life.

One final note for anyone that sells tablet computers: very few of the seniors tracked by Forrester Research were using a tablet computer. In fact, the number was only 4 percent. I would be willing to bet that will change dramatically over the next two years, when Windows 8 tablets really find their way into the market.

But today, most seniors going online are using a desktop computer to do so. A higher percentage of seniors uses desktops (76 percent) and the North American average (63 percent).


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