Is There a Digital Divide Among Seniors?

seniors and tech border

Adult children who want to help their aging parents learn to use more technology may want to read the April 2014 Pew Internet organization report, Older Adults and Technology Use.

This fascinating document, freely available online, describes various groups of technology-using seniors and explains how they use or do not use computers and devices. It also offers some reasons why older seniors, especially, slow down in their use of computers and digital devices as they age.

What’s interesting to me is that less of a digital divide exists between seniors and the rest of the younger adult population, and more of a digital divide exists between higher and lower-income seniors. Also the researchers found that after age 75 technology use tends to drop off significantly for many elders.

Most Interesting Findings                Continue reading

How Does Your Life Resemble a Millennial’s Life?

How Millennial

Click and take the quiz.

If you are an older adult or an adult child, you probably know at least one millennial family member who was born in 1981 or later. Millennials are digital natives, born into a world that is markedly different from the world in which we all grew up. So when it comes to life, they also have markedly different outlooks and habits.

I just discovered and took a quiz How Millennial Are You? over at the Pew Internet Research Center website. It is interesting and fun, so give it a try!

The questions cover digital-age habits such as reading newspapers, using mobile phones, and watching television, as well as a fair number of life-style issues. It’s interesting to do, and the score places each quiz-taker on a continuum with a range of generations from people in their in their 70s and above (called the silent generation) to boomers and down through other demographic groups to millennials.

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Dad’s New iPad: How We Decided What to Buy – iPad for Dad #25

iPad II

This picture has the old operating system. I’ll take a screen shot of his new iPad  once it is up and running.

I finally figured out what iPad model to purchase for my 90-year-old dad as a Christmas 2013 present, and I thought I’d share my decision-making process here, just in case others are dealing with the same conundrum. My mom is under strict instructions to keep him away from this blog (he is a regular reader) until mid-day on December 25th.

Deciding what to buy as a replacement iPad took quite a bit of time and energy, mostly because a range of models are available at a range of prices. Below are some of the factors that contributed to my decision. At the end you can find out what we bought for dad’s Christmas present.

iPad Keyboard – Dad has an easy-to-use keyboard. He sets the iPad right into the 30-pin port and begins typing. His speaker system for music connects the same way. The newest iPad models come with the smaller lightning to USB connector. To change connections, he would need to change keyboards. Moreover, the newest keyboards are all bluetooth, and I really did not want my dad to have to add keeping track of bluetooth to his digital iPad tasks. We searched for keyboards that would connect the same way as his older one — just with smaller connections, but they just aren’t available.                         Continue reading

Time for a New iPad for Dad — iPad for Dad #24

ipad4dad5It is time to purchase a new iPad for my father.

If you have followed this blog for the past several years you know that three years ago we (my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law, and me) purchased an iPad for my father’s birthday. The iPad for Dad project, beginning in May 2010, has been an enormous success, and it’s generated a long list of blog posts here on As Our Parents Age.

Rarely do I arrive at my parents’ house without seeing his iPad set up and a quick glance demonstrates that Dad, now 90 years old, has been using it or is about to sit down to write or search. He’s written over 400 journal posts on the iPad — tapping the little arrow and sending them off to his family of readers — and many of these mini-essays shared rich ideas (of course he’s always had these), interesting observations, and detailed family information (much of it new to me and other family members).

What I liked most about the iPad was its ease of use and the fact that it’s always connected to my parents’ wireless. It does not require waiting around while programs boot up, and from the beginning of this project Dad hardly needed any tutoring to get going.

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Wireless: A Primer for the Rest of Us (Including Aging Parents)

When we install wireless access in our homes or in the home of aging parents, it’s common for most of us to use it intensively while understanding few of the details about the  equipment and how various components work. We usually know when it’s not working, but that’s about it.

wireless components MakeUseOf

Check out the article at the makeuseof site.

Bottom line?  We should all learn a bit more about our home wireless systems, which by he way, probably work in our yards as well as inside the house.

The MakeUseOf website has just published an excellent wireless primer to help digital novices understand just how these powerful networking systems work in our homes and in the homes of our aging parents. Make some time to read it over  — it’s lifelong learning at it’s best.

If knowledge is power, the knowledge of the networking tools that connect your digital devices to the rest of the world is powerful indeed.

iPads for Seniors? My Dad Knows How Cool It Is!

Early on iPad training with my dad.

Early on iPad training with my dad.

iPads for seniors as a way to decrease isolation and stimulate intellectual curiosity?  You bet! After writing over 20 iPad for Dad columns about my dad and his iPad, I could have told them so and my dad can, too.

I know that Steve Jobs was not thinking about seniors in the elder years of their lives when he conceived Apple’s iPad, but it’s the perfect tool for them — lightweight, easy to use, intuitive, connected to a world of resources, and after just a bit of training, it enables seniors to do things that they want to do (check news, watch movies, connect electronically with family members, etc.).

An article in today’s Washington Post (July 14, 2013), Successful Program to Help D.C. Senior Citizens Use iPads to Prevent Isolation Will Expand, that describes a District of Columbia pilot program, funded by the AARP Foundation, that distributed 55 iPads to seniors and offers classes on a regular basis. According to the report, no one has dropped out of the training and no iPads have been lost. Now the program is doubling.

We live in a connected world — in fact we take it for granted. People who do not have access may experience isolation. Moreover, many elders either do not have access to the Internet, or if they do, there’s not get enough training to get started with life’s  technology tasks. As they age into later years, elders are still eager to learn — lifelong learners, actually —  and they can be well served if their adult children or their communities help them gain access to technology tools and entre to the required training.

I’d love to know where else there are other successful iPad programs for seniors.