Use And Knowledge Of Technology Among Seniors

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Tech Talk' started by Ken Anderson, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    technology-grandpa-grandparent-grandpas-granddads-technological_advancements-mgrn15_low.jpg

    Joe Riley shared this cartoon in another part of the forum, but since what I wanted to say about it wouldn't have been on-topic there, I thought I'd share it here instead.

    I come across the thinking represented in this cartoon a lot so I am sure that it must be true, to some extent, or with some people. I wonder how true it is overall, however.

    I have had a computer since the early 1980s. My first computer came with a tape drive. My second used floppies, but the larger floppies that actually flopped, rather than the smaller version that were also known by that name.

    A hard drive was an upgrade, and one that I had to install myself. In fact, unless I wanted to use my computer as a word processor, I had to learn to program in order to get any use out of it.

    Any upgrades that I wanted done to my computers, I did myself, including building a better computer from the parts of one crappy one and another computer that was no longer functional.

    Before such things were available locally, I wrote an accounting program for the church where I was a secretary-treasurer. Also before such things were available locally, I wrote training software for EMTs and paramedics, and even sold site licenses to a few hospitals.

    I wrote the accounting and billing program that we used at Los Fresnos EMS. I ran a computer BBS before public access to the Internet was available.

    My first websites were created from scratch, entirely with code. I once spent a couple of weeks figuring out how to get my menu to change color when a cursor hovered over it.

    I no longer have the money to afford every new thing that comes to market, or the time and inclination, but for most of my life I was one of the first to upgrade to the newest thing, and I don't consider myself to be behind the times, technologically.

    Although I had bought him one of the first Ataris that came out, and had a computer while he was still living with me, my son has never had a computer, and has no interest even in a smart phone.

    My wife has a similar history. She was a graphic designer, and did search engine optimization before there was a name for it. She worked tech support for AOL.

    Our grandchildren ask my wife how to fix things that have gone wrong with their gadgets.

    Clearly, I can't speak for every kid in the country, and I am sure that there are some who are shear geniuses when it comes to technology but, from what I have seen, they know how to use technology, but if anything goes wrong they have to buy a new one or have someone else fix it for them.

    That's like the difference between knowing how to drive a car and knowing how to build or repair a car.

    I find these cartoons, and the idea that is perpetuated in such cartoons, on television, and in the media, as being insulting, the worst part being that kids are believing it.

    On an only slightly related topic, I can remember when my son brought the Pink Floyd album, "The Wall," home, and told me it wasn't anything I'd be interested in. He was surprised to learn, and didn't even believe me, when I told him that the members of the band were older than I was, that I had seen them in concert years before, and that their career had come and almost gone before they made a comeback with "The Wall."

    To him, they were a new band, but I was interested in learning that they were still around.

    Kids like to think they're smarter than we are, and that nothing we may have experienced or learned could possibly be relevant today. I find that insulting, and I don't think it's true of most people.

    Here in Millinocket, I haven't come across very many people my age or even a decade or so older than me who don't know how to use a computer or a smartphone, and I haven't known very many people my age who don't. Is that just the people I hang around with?
     
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  2. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    I'd guess you had the foresight to get in on the ground floor, and yes, it's just the people you "hang around with". I began my techo-journey about five or six years ago, by learning XP Pro at the library. Since librarians these days are more decorative than functional, I mostly taught myself, using instructional books with trial'n'error method. Since one is on a time-clock (with only one hour allotted), it took about nine months going in six days a week. Until I got a home PC in September or October, I was at the library admin mercy, and had first Vista then Win7 forced on me.....each time with a drop in my enthusiasm, and a sharp rise in my irritation level.

    My interest in tech has pretty much bottomed out at PC related stuff. No pocketphone, MP3 music player, or whatever else is now available. I'm slowly acquiring parts for a custom build PC, but will have a computer shop put it together, so that doesn't really count. Learning to write programs, coding, reconfiguring the Linux kernel, etc., would likely be an exercise in futility, so that will have to wait for the next life when I am reborn as a Chinese megamind.

    Considering how many old folks I see at beginning computer classes at the library and senior center, I'd be inclined to suspect that far more don't have a clue about PCs than them that do. Considering how few oldsters I see using the public PCs at the library, my suspicion is reinforced.
     
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  3. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    I have dealt with computers since college, when we had to learn to program in Fortran on punch cards before we were allowed to take any Physics courses. That was an IBM 1620 series and was as big as a house by today's standards. I have been involved in several mainframe installations, but no longer know much programming, and I am no expert in anything Windows. I know enough to get around and have done some on-the-job training in Excel, and Word and other programs. I have relied on the help of younger, more savvy people to accomplish what I needed to do with those programs.
     
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  4. Beatrice Taylor

    Beatrice Taylor Well-Known Member
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    I have several older relatives, people I went to school with, etc... that are adamant about not having a computer.

    I feel bad because I'm sure that if they did give it a try it would expand their social lives with email, FB, forums, etc... It would also make getting older a little bit easier when it comes to handling day to day life.

    IMO the main reason that so many older people are opposed to them is a fear of failure. When we are young we fail as often as we succeed. We dust ourselves off, compare notes with friends and try again without any shame or embarrassment. When we get older we tend to take failure more seriously and don't always like to admit that we can't get the hang of something new so we just stop trying.

    I'm not sure how to go about changing that attitude and getting folks to at least give technology a try.
     
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  5. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
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    Well, there are Baby Boomers and older that are completely scared of computers or just don't like them. Some never learned how to type and the old "hunt and peck" thing can get old, although some folks can do the "hunt and peck" thing pretty fast. My brother absolutely hates computers or any technology, like Blue-Ray DVD Players or other high-tech stuff. He never learned to type and his fingers are short and husky.

    I used my first on-the-job computer in 1989, in an electronics stockroom. The program was Basic 4, an Accounting type program for BOM's for Production. Before this job, I actually taught myself how to use a computer by going to local library. I know the keyboard and can type upwards of 70 wpm. Can use the 10-key, at the side of the keyboard, but not as good at using it as my wife. She's knows the 10-key pretty much by heart, but then again, her career has been a lot in accounting and finance.

    I only wish computers were around when I was in the Navy and after. Much rather do a Purchase Order on a computer, keep Inventory on a computer and so on. Typing out a Purchase Order on an electric typewriter and using 3 x 5 cards for Inventory got old.

    Wife and I are highly computer literate and we are extremely thankful for that.
     
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  6. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    I was the same way. Could of learned computers and been on the internet ten or 15 years ago, but thought it was all a bunch of blather that the herd is well known for. The price for having a 'closed mind' is never cheap. Internet is everything to me. A place to endlessly explore. Free source of movies/TV shows. Replacement for the books I can no longer enjoy. Forums. So much more.

    I suspect it is because oldsters have no clue how great and useful the internet actually is, that they are just too lazy to learn. My Granny was like that with TV. The old excuses. Radio is just fine, I don't need no new contraptions. Ain't nothing I'd want to watch. I'd never learn how to work it. It would just take up space and eat up electricity for nothing. She had a million and one excuses. My mother got tired of it, and got a TV for herself, even though Granny ranted and raged for days. Within a year, Granny had pretty much thrown a coup, taken over the TV, and was addicted to 'Lawrence Welk Show' and 'I Love Lucy'.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

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    When I would accompany our pastor to the nursing homes here, I found that even the nursing home patients had computers and tablets, whichever they were the most comfortable with. Given that the younger population of Millinocket had to move between the 1970s and 2012, when the mill closed altogether, that's how they keep in touch with their children and grandchildren. I don't suppose very many of them are building websites or creating apps, but they have no problem with Facebook and email. A lot of people, old and young, don't know anything about the Internet outside of Facebook and social media, however.
     
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  8. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    There are also the "Receive Only" machines that act a bit like fax machines, but cannot send anything. It allows children and grandchildren to send photos and emails to older relatives or handicapped people who cannot use a regular computer or tablet.
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

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    I've seen the things that were like photos where family members could send new photos that would appear on the device.
     
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  10. Vinny Waccio

    Vinny Waccio Active Member
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    At the age of 14 I knew that computers were the future. At the time there were only mainframes but some of us hobbyist were building simple ones at home. When I was old enough I went to collage to major in Computer Science of which there were few choices. Most only had Electrical Engineering courses. I found the only one which was part of the NY City Colleges, which offered a major in Computer Science. I was a military veteran and married so my choices were limited.

    My wife fell ill and was confined to bed rest for 1.5 years. The medical bills were piling up despite 3 part time jobs. I had to leave college after my first year to find a full time job. It was fortuitous that IBM had just introduced a smaller mainframe that medium and small businesses could afford and there was not enough people to operate them. I taught myself all the popular programming languages at the time and yet never did IT full time. I always had a main job and did IT on the side for the company I worked for. At the time, IT was considered a cost center. As one CEO did at a company officers meeting, pointing at each department head saying "money in" over an over again until he got to me and said "money out". IT was considered a necessary evil by many.

    About this time my dad retired early when his job became computerized. He could not change a radio station on his car radio, operated a VCR or even use a sound system I bought him. He refused to learn so he quit. Later on I found out that he never went to school in his life and did not want to feel stupid trying to learn how to use a computer. My dad died this year at the age of 90. All of my family dies in their 90's by avoiding doctors as much as possible. :) He life alone by his insistence with no computer or even an understanding of what computers can do or what the internet was. I offered to hire a trainer who specialized in teaching older people but refused. He kept on complaining that he was lonely and yet refused to learn how to reach out to others via the internet.

    I ended up doing very well for myself in the IT field as well as a few others where I used to write my own software to allow me to do my job better than others. It was not until 23 years ago that I worked full time in IT with no other responsibilities. Since the company was running on what I built for them, they gave me a nice salary and 25% of the net profits. I left them to get that. They tried to bring in consultants but I wrote millions of lines code and they could not untangle it so they hired me back under my terms. :)

    Where I live now there are over 150,000 senior citizens. When I moved her I was very surprised that it was the women who were computer literate. The men I knew did not even carry a phone and I got blank stares when I mentioned popular websites. They had no email addresses and I had to call or Email their wives to get messages to them. I was used to emailing or calling friends to set up things to do and now I was forced to plan well in advance. Like my dad they just did not want to learn and feel stupid.

    We have a computer club here that offers free classes on all thing electronic. You bring your own device in and they will not only teach you but set it up for you. Still, it is mostly women who go. I do not have a single email address for any male I know here except for our clubs who use email to contact their members. I personally help my wife's friends with their devices but still some draw the line at their smart phone. I just told some people about the much higher CD rates from online banks. Significant differences and yet they tell me that they do not trust doing business online except for buying stuff. They refuse to pay bills electronically or even access their banking accounts on the internet. While we are taking pictures of checks to deposit them, they drive 15 minutes to the bank to cash even small checks. They do not integrate their phones with their cars so they can have hands free calls. In fact they not activate crash avoidance or the feature that keeps you in your lane. It just seems that a lot of people here do not want to learn new things while I am spending my retirement learning new things because I enjoy learning for learning's sake.

    Even the past leader of my Mensa group was not taking advantage of the internet. He died last year and the new guy has established a Google group to handle things rather than emailing everyone when only a few were interested in the subject matter. Now I can go to Google group and see the dates of the meetings and who the guest speakers are. When I moved her, few companies had websites. This was 8 years ago and I could not find the companies I needed on the web. If I found one it looked like a kid did it. No address or phone number. Nothing about sales or anything else. The worst part was the directions they posted. It simply said: We are located across the street from the Alma's bar and grill. They were expecting people to know where Alma is. Every store I went into I told them that they are losing a lot of business by not having a website. Over time, a long time, most now have websites and decent ones at that.

    I see so many people who can improve the quality of life, especially the shut ins, and yet they do not want to learn how to make their life better with a new fangled electronic gadget that is too complicated to learn. Ad new younger old people move in things have changed. However the generation before me and a good number of my generation, remain in the dark.
     
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  11. Neville Telen

    Neville Telen Well-Known Member
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    That pretty much mirrors my experience here, except pretty much everyone has a pocketphone superglued to their hand, even old folks. Guess I'm the only holdout in the Bay Area, if not NorCal. As for the oldsters I see at the computer classes in the library, a good 70% are women. Strange thing is, I rarely see old folks using the public computers. I expect this means either the folks at the computer class had the backbone to buy a PC, without knowing how to use it....or they took the class, and then gave up on the idea. Seems to me there are three sorts of computer users. Those like you and Ken Anderson, that got onboard early, those like me that procrastinated til the ship was ready to leave, and then the rest that accidentally or intentionally missed the boat.
     
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  12. Yvonne Smith

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    I agree that not as many people (of any age) use public computers as much anymore. With the advancement of tablets, and small, lightweight laptops, it has become much easier for everyone to have a small portable computer at home.
    The seniors who didn’t stay fairly current with computer development, or didn’t learn to use them at all, probably will never even try to learn. If they still have some old dinosaur desktop in the back room, and know how to use it comfortably, then they would see no reason to expend the effort to learn how to use a tablet with a touchscreen or even a smartphone.
    I remember hearing the stories of housewives who didn’t want an electric cookstove or refrigerator because they had always used a wood cookstove and an ice box, and no one could convince them that they would actually really like the new appliances if they tried them.

    It helps when you have adult kids (or other family members) who stay on top of technology, at least that has helped me a lot. I call my daughter “the Guruette”, and she totally loves almost any kind of new tech gadget that comes out.
    I totally love my iPad, iPhone, Kindle, and my Apple Watch ! I do not know how I would get along without any of these, and actually there are more that I do not usually think of. For example, the printer is bluetooth, and so is the bathroom scales, and I think that there are other things that I am not remembering right now, too.
     
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  13. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    I have a desktop, a kindle and a laptop, but I still prefer the "dinosaur laptop" to any of the others except for extended reading when I use the kindle. I don't want a smart phone, as I don't want to be available to everyone all the time. I only give my cell number out to family in case they need to get in touch in an urgent situation. When I get home, I check messages on the old fashioned land line with caller ID. I can see who called me, but generally, if they don't leave a message, I ignore it. My wife has an Android phone and is tied to it all the time. Our children have a variety of smart phones, and some have two (both IPhone and Android). Our daughters are both married to engineers and one is quite tech-oriented, while the other (married to a computer/mechanical engineer) can't really be bothered as she has more important things--5 children--to worry about.
     
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  14. Yvonne Smith

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    I guess that I never feel tethered to my phone, even though it is a smartphone. I see it as something for MY convenience, and not something that I have to carry for other people’s benefit.
    As long as I am wearing the Apple Watch, the phone stays buried in my purse, and when I get a call, I can see on the watch who is calling, and choose to answer it or to cancel it.
    If an unknown number calls, and I am not expecting a call from somewhere unknown, then I never answer, and believe that if it is important, then they will call back or leave me a voicemail.

    I am really, really glad not to have a home phone anymore !
    Nothing rings and disturbs me. (RING....RING....RING ! )
    It was hard not to answer the home phone, but I have no such problems with my iphone.
    It only vibrates, and it does that mainly on my wristwatch.
    If I have to sit and wait somewhere, all of my kindle books are on the phone, and the print is set large enough that I can read comfortably while I wait.
    If I lose Bobby or my friend Evelyn in Walmart, I can look on the find friends app and see where they are at in the store.
    If the car breaks down (Heaven forbid ! ) I can call AAA and get help on the way.
    Things like that make me feel really happy to have a smart phone .
     
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  15. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    The phone in our bedroom doesn't ring, and the other phones announce who is calling, so I don't have to get out of a chair if I don't want to do so. I carry an old flip phone, so I can always make outgoing calls. I originally stayed with the flip phone as it was easier to answer when I was commuting should my wife call. All I had to do was open it; nothing to swipe or key in. My truck at the time didn't have Bluetooth capabilities. I guess it would be okay to have the books on the phone, but I am not willing to have all the things I don't want concerning a smartphone just to get the one thing I do.
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I rarely have my iPhone with me, and I don't answer it unless I recognize the person who's calling me. I have it in case I break down or my wife has something she needs to get in touch with me about while I'm away from home. Even when we're together, I'll take it when we go to Bangor because if she wants to go to Walmart (which I hate), I will often drop her off there and go to the pet shop so she can call me when she's ready to go. I would not want to feel obligated to answer my phone just because someone wants to try to sell me something.

    I will get online via my iPhone if that's all I have with me but I'll usually just read or maybe make a very brief reply to something in the forum or on Facebook. I have a Kindle HD7 and an HD10, as well as a couple of older paperwhites. I'll use my HD7 to go online after I've gone to bed to check things out one last time before going to sleep but I don't usually post much with it. My HD10 is much better as far as the viewer goes but I still don't like typing on those virtual screens, since it's more of a hunt and peck thing, and I often hit the wrong keys.

    So my online choices remain strongly rooted in my computers, and the bigger the better. My MacBook Pro is great for portability and it's a fine computer, but I prefer a larger screen. That's what I bring with me when we're traveling since I can do fine with it. The keyboard that I use with my iMac is the same size so there's no problem as far as that's concerned. When I'm home, my MacBook Pro is usually upstairs. I will get online with that in the morning, checking the forum and Facebook, and if I am going to mostly add sites or modify site descriptions on the job that day, I might work from the MacBook for the day.

    If I am going to do category descriptions or anything that requires having several tabs open at a time, I will use my iMac. It has a 27" screen, plus I have a widescreen monitor attached to it, as well. I used to have a third monitor connected to it but that was overkill, as I never actually needed three monitors at the same time unless I was using one to play DVDs on.

    My iMac is getting on in years (2011), although it works just fine. If it were to quit on me, I probably wouldn't get another iMac, not because there's anything wrong with them, but because the MacBook Pro is every bit as good of a computer as the iMac, without the bulk. They make stands for the MacBook Pro, where it can be closed up; rather than using the screen, keyboard, and trackpad that comes with the MacBook, I could connect another monitor or two, and a separate keyboard and trackpad so that I wouldn't be confined to the space of a MacBook. Basically, I would simply be using the MacBook's CPU and storage. That's probably what I'd do because I prefer separating the trackpad from the keyboard, and to be able to move the keyboard around without moving the whole thing around.

    As for seniors in general, I can only speak of the ones I know. My neighbor, across the street, is in his eighties, yet he knows how to use a computer. My wife helps him out when he's selling something on eBay or setting up his auctioneer site, but he can use a computer.

    I see older, retired people, in the restaurants around here with laptops, or with their heads stuck in their smartphones, and people are getting online from their rooms in the nursing home.
     
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  17. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    That is kinda my point, @Ken Anderson. I don't need or want a smartphone because I would never surf with it and I don't do Facebook or any of the social media, so I don't need it for that. My little phone makes calls, takes photos and sends texts, and that is all I intend to use a phone for. I don't want it to be my computer. I don't even use laptops unless I am travelling or too lazy to walk to my desktop. My desktop also has a backup usb hard drive (solid state) so it backs everything up.
     
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  18. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    computer.jpg

    Maybe some of you computer smart people can help me. I ordered something from an online pet supply company. Now I am getting annoying ads from them on my "Notifications". Is there any way I can stop the ads?
     
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  19. Yvonne Smith

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    It is really easy to stop the pet supply ads, @Shirley Martin .
    All you have to do is order something from Victoria’s Secret, or maybe even some viagra would do it, and then you would not be getting ads for pets supplies anymore........
     
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  20. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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