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More Seniors Are Using Computers and the Internet Than Ever Before. Those Who Don’t Are Missing Out, Say the Experts.

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WASHINGTON, DC, Jun 3 — I miss my typewriter!  I miss the sound and the feel of it.  But, alas, they tell me, “It’s the 21st century, get with it.”  My response is, “I could pick a century out of a hat and get a better one.”

I admit it — I am technologically deficient.  So I asked the experts to tell me why this 78-year-old hack of a reporter needs a computer, why do I need to know how to “surf the internet”?  And here’s what the techies at a company called Avast had to say.  They bill themselves as “a global leader in digital security and privacy” and I figured they would have the answers.

Q:  I’m a senior citizen.  I read newspapers and magazines, listen to the radio and watch TV.  I get my information the old fashioned way.  Why is it so important for me to learn how to use a computer?

A: The major benefit of using computers is simply the ability to stay connected in the modern world.  Online banking, social media, many government services and much more are moving increasingly, if not entirely, online.  It may soon be impossible to access any of these services without a computer.  In other words, if you’re not digitally proficient, you can’t fully participate in society these days.  Once people find how technology can facilitate them in their passions and hobbies, they would find their own reasons to learn.

Q: I know how to turn on my computer, find information on the internet and receive and send emails.  Isn’t that enough… doesn’t that make me digitally literate?  What else do I need to know?

A: You need to learn how to stay safe online, practicing ‘defensive internet use,’ and understanding what happens with your data. It includes knowing how to set and manage strong passwords, keeping on top of privacy settings, and having a basic understanding of what’s safe and not safe to click on or visit online.  If you can do that, you have a baseline for digital literacy.

Q: You say, it’s important to use my computer and my cell phone in a safe way… to beware of conmen.  I say, it’s a good reason for not using these devices.

A: People put up barriers to new technology because they think it’s kind of difficult.  And in fact, it’s really just a bit like being an entrepreneur in that you need to prepare to fail.  You need to just try things.  A lot of adults lack confidence and feel scared to make mistakes.  Yes, the experts agree, it can be dangerous to use cell phones or computers, but the benefits far outweigh these risks.  You need to overcome that lack of confidence and feeling scared to make mistakes.  You need to stop worrying about it and get on with it.

Q: You say that it will improve my life.  I ask, how?

A: There are so many opportunities for senior citizens via a computer and the internet.  They can find information about any hobby or any interest they may have.  In addition, it can give them access to new friends and groups of people who share their passions.  There are social media platforms dedicated to knitting and crochet, for example.  There are thousands of car clubs on Facebook alone.  There are even sites that can help retirees find the best prices on flights, hotels, credit cards and more, ensuring that pensions can stretch even further.  Whatever the passion, interest or benefit, you can find more, faster, online than you ever could off the internet.


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Smike
22 days ago

Nice article but hardly a NEWS FLASH

Smike
2 months ago

We grew up in a different time. We grew up when a handshake and your word was your bond. We grew up in a face-to-face world. We actually talked to each other. We learned how to get along. We had friends. And that’s why today’s technology annoys us. Social media is a waste of precious time. Our youth walk around in a daze starring at a screen and talking with people they don’t know and probably will never know about things that don’t matter all day. The computer is a fantastic tool that is very useful to do a lot of tasks. Today the computer and i phone have become most people’s social network. There’s no eye contact, no facial expressions, no tone of voice that’s not real, it’s just words without feelings or passion. Yal, we need to know how computers work and use them appropriately – they’re tools, they can save us time and have a lot of useful uses.

Eddie Mack
2 months ago

“I could pick a century out of a hat and get a better one.” Tut tut. That should be familiar to old-time movie buffs. It was Walter Hampden’s line in Sabrina (1954).

With the closing of so many brick-and-mortar retailers, you almost have to have some internet access. There are so many parts for appliances, etc. that you can’t find anywhere else anymore.

But there’s also a lot lies and filth out there. Not to mention potential obsession, and even addiction, that many users suffer.

I would cut my internet ties altogether, if I could manage without it. But there are too many things that are “internet only” now.

Kim
2 months ago

I’m one of those who did not embrace computer technology early on. While taking care of my mother for many years, and needing a distraction, I bought Blogging for Dummies. Less than a week later, my gardening blog was up and running.This self-hosted platform came with a steep learning curve. But, there was no better time to finally become computer proficient. The computer I was using was my mother’s! She was quite comfortable with her online banking, medical, and Social Security accounts, although was negligent where privacy and security were concerned. That’s why her accounts had been hacked a few times, which required professional help to fix.

I bristle a little bit over a few lines in the articles. One answer said, “… if you’re not digitally proficient, you can’t fully participate in society these days.” Lots of people our age are computer-free and are fully participating in society.

Another, ” A lot of adults lack confidence and feel scared to make mistakes.” That’s true of 5-year-olds and of 25-year-olds, too. It’s not an age specific thing. In conversations with mature adults who do not regularly use a computer, lack of confidence was never given as a reason.

One more, “There are social media platforms dedicated to knitting and crochet, for example.” How patronizing can you get?!

PaulE
2 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Lol!!! Yes, I also found those patronizing segments of the article a less then subtle job at anyone who didn’t happen to completely agree with the writer’s perspective 100 percent or the obsolete view of what the interests of most seniors are today. Talk about a writer stuck in the past. There are far better ways to get a point across other than ridiculing segements of the audience. However, if I had bothered to point it out, my comments would have likely been flagged by the AMAC moderator, yet again, so I let those parts slide. Good for you for being able to point out those deficiencies without being censored.

Stephen Russell
2 months ago

MUST have skills to talk to Todays kids etc alone
To research trips, medical care, finances
buying products etc

PaulE
2 months ago

Being a senior doesn’t mean one stops thinking, learning or evolving and adapting to an ever changing world. Computer technology, in any of its myriad forms, is a tool like anything else. The value you get from its use depends on how and if you use it. Computers allow us instanteous access to information from around the world, that was formerly unheard of to humanity. Yes, you sometimes have to sift through a lot of what we might describe as garbage, junk or “noise” as some may call it to get to information of real substance, but that is a small price to pay for instanteous access to information from around the world that bypasses the MSM and political leaders, who used to be the so-called gate keepers of what the public could learn about. Now you literally have acccess to almost any information you could conceive of at your finger tips, if you wish. How you choose to use it is up to you.

I have met some seniors that fear technology or have absolutely no interest in learning anything new about anything now that they have retired. That is their choice, but it is also their loss. Some people just choose to dwell in the past and day dream of the “good old days” in their later years. Again, that is their choice and they are free to spend their senior years anyway they wish. Computer technolgy affords us all the ability to keep educating ourselves on virtually any subject. All it requires is intellectual curiosity and the desire to keep learning.

tika
2 months ago

“boomers” created the broadest range of tech for practical everyday business and personal functions including news. the following gens are responsible for most of the perverted use. most seniors have easily logged more hours on computers and the internet than the generations that write these articles. garbage-in, garbage-out, still and likely forever.

MFG
2 months ago

I grew up in the 56’s and 60’s. I ended up working in the IT industry. I am computer literate and still put the smart phone away once I am in the house. I admit that there is a lot of convenience in the use of technology, but I have worked computer security and still don’t trust the internet for on line banking and the like. The biggest problem I find with the technology thing is the removal of face time from our relationships. By the way, I have used Avast. It is far superior to Norton. Just saying.

Ruth Pierce
2 months ago

I am also a senior citizen. I use my computer daily. Of course, I have worked in offices where the use of a computer was necessary. We had a recent power outage a couple weeks ago–which included a tornado!! In northern Michigan, I didn’t think that was possible; but I digress. My point is that I was unable to use this computer for TWO DAYS!! I agree with the author when he mentioned that, among other uses, Internet Banking. I’ve used it, along with Direct Deposit of my pension and Social Security checks. These days, when I am looking up the name of a company–like a mechanic I just go online for the phone number. I don’t think I opened my phone book this year.

susabella
2 months ago

Seniors using computers. Hmmm, aren’t we the ones who used computers at our jobs starting in the 1970’s when they became desktop staples. And we have used them ever since. I think the only seniors who don’t use them are the ones who never worked in an office. Get real, folks.

Kim
2 months ago
Reply to  susabella

True–I’ve worked for myself all my life (and short-term for a couple of companies), in a field that didn’t require computers. When I needed something printed up, I used a computer at the copy center, after asking how to turn the thing on. And I knew where the library was.

Bob L.
2 months ago

I barely use a desktop and as the programs/servers change it causes me problems to get back to where I was with the old. Technology was leaving me behind by 1980 when I bought a Xerox Memowriter typewriter and never mastered it. Since cell phones started getting “smart”, I have been forced to upgrade because of service upgrades no longer working on my older phones. I still only use a “cell phone” to make and receive calls. Messages and alerts go ignored as I don’t text or use any of the other advanced features. Paper “hard copies” are my main files since electronic ones are subject to be lost forever either by a failure in a computer or my ignorant mistakes.

I loved growing up in the 1950s, but sometimes think I should have been born 80 or 90 years earlier, even if life was harder but things were “manually operated”.

Ruth Pierce
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob L.

I have a landline phone in addition to a smart phone. Like you, I just use it to make phone calls. I still have trouble answering the @@##$$# thing!! I also grew up in the 1950s. My computer use has been a lot of trial and error. If I need help with the computer I ask my kids (and grandkids). They seem to have the answers I’m looking for.

Carol
2 months ago

I’m a senior and still working. Been programming computers since punch cards! We grew up in the infancy of personal computers before cell phones. I’m not the most savvy on the newest tech stuff but I know how to use my computer, tablet and smart phone! Got lots of elderly friends on both sides of this. Couldn’t do without my smart phone since can access so much and stay connected, especially when I’m homebound for whatever reason!

P Welch
2 months ago

The insulting arrogance of young people and techies is evidenced in the answers given to these legitimate questions. If you don’t do things their way, you’re nobody. Besides the fact that they owe some serious respect to the older generations who invented computer technology before they were born, they ignore the very real fact that many people are just not adept at using a computer with all its technical challenges, pitfalls and “oops!” problems — they just aren’t good at mechanical things. This problem includes a lot of folks besides the elderly. I’ve been using a home computer for the past 25 years at just a basic level but many strange problems and notices appear that are confusing. This is not a simple machine. My older sister is a very intelligent retired high school teacher, mentally sharp, but she is a disaster at anything mechanical. She uses the remote to turn on her TV and change channels and volume, but is lost beyond that. She has a cell flip phone (as I do) for emergencies. The people who don’t want a computer or smart phone have legitimate reasons for their choice and should not be deprived of normal services and activities in our society just because they are unable to operate the new technological devices or, for that matter, to afford these very expensive gadgets.

Morbious
2 months ago
Reply to  P Welch

As to the young: there is no analogue in our day to todays computers and smart phones. The young find it frustrating that many of us cant achieve competence but dont realize the technological simplicity we grew up with. They, on the other hand, grew into tech from an early age. Its intuitive to them but a great effort for us. Too often they see us as useless artifacts of a primitive age. They miss the fact that while data is at their fingertips , wisdom is not.

tika
2 months ago
Reply to  P Welch

they are usurpers of everything original. they equate pushing a button with actual learning and knowledge of facts with wisdom. they lack creativity of intellectual thought. they are gullible and as you say, arrogant. must be proud of stupid, like poorly raised 5 year-olds.

Kim
2 months ago
Reply to  P Welch

Yes! I picture the person answering the questions as an impatient fast-talking 30-something, guffawing over the prospect of someone not warming up to this technology.

Herb S
2 months ago

We have not gotten a newspaper since our parrot died and we gave away her cage.
Regarding online banking, if it ain’t there, they can’t hack it.
Cell phone is for texting the kids who are at the opposite corner of the country, and the weather forecast.

Sharon Ormsby
2 months ago
Reply to  Herb S

Our town’s newspaper sent it out to the boonies to produce it. It comes here a full day later so all news is a day and a half late. What’s the point of it? Nothing. It’s all false news by then anyway. Even the ads are too late. We do have the Thrifty Nickel which is a weekly paper for advertising, thank goodness. People put ads there to give away puppies and kittens and to foster animals, thank goodness. It comes out every Thursday and people can pick them up at the local grocers and convenience stores throughout the area.

Pete & Mardi Nagy
2 months ago
Reply to  Herb S

I see your point re online banking but what if your bank is hacked?

Lois Keel
2 months ago

This leaves me feeling slightly of two different opinions. I have a relative who will be getting a copy of this. I know her library could bring her up to speed (they offer one-on-one instruction). At the same time I’m inclined to keep the cheapest dumbest cell phone I can. I don’t usually have it on unless I want to call or expect a possible call. I have a tablet for computer use traveling away from home. It’s getting to where restaurants only want their menus there & other things expect 24 hour cell phone usage. I have to tell people not to text my home phone as it’s a landline. I’ll only do two-factor authentication if I know it’s not assuming the number is a cell phone.

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