Seniors and Technology – Never Assume that Age Means Incapable

I am in my fifties and an online entrepreneur. My children are grown, finished school, and working in their chosen careers. My mother is retired, an artist, and works on the administrative end for one of her art groups. We all have to use technology every day to get things done. What is amazing is how many people are shocked by the fact that my mother can turn on a computer, let alone operate the many applications that she uses daily. The assumption that seniors and technology are incompatible is, sadly, very common.

Your Mom Uses Facebook????

Many years ago, one of my children told me that her friends thought it was cool that I was on social media. They were genuinely impressed that an older person was able to communicate in a digital world. You can imagine how impressed they were to find out that my mother, who was in her sixties at the time, was also on social media! These teenagers could not fathom the idea of a senior citizen engaging on the social platforms that they used in their everyday existence. 

Hands of a senior woman texting on a cell phone.
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Guess what? Age Does Not Decide Your Interests Nor Limit Your Abilities!

I worked in an office environment when high-tech meant you had an adding machine, a fax machine and a photocopier. I remember getting my first computer and learning how to use a word processor. I grew along with the implementation of technology. Over the years I have watched as the senior staff members were expected to learn to use a computer and the various business applications and social platforms that businesses rely on to grow. Some had difficulties and some embraced the concepts with open arms. I also watched as programs and platforms were changed and I can tell you from firsthand experience, it wasn’t only the older team members who struggled. They weren’t even the ones who complained the most about having to adjust. 

I was part of the team that set up new employees, provided their computers and accesses, and made sure they understood how to operate them and our systems. I worked with employees of all ages. Some struggled. Some took to it all with ease. There were those who felt they knew everything and went off on their own until they finally had to call me (the old lady) to help correct and guide them. There were also those who had an abundance of knowledge and were willing to help share their ideas to help us make the most of what we had available to us.

Something I noticed about all of these people is that not one of these groups had a specific age category. There were hotshots who were in their twenties and in their sixties, just as there were people in all age groups who needed more guidance as they were extremely uncomfortable working with technology.  

Remember Where Things Started

Old computer with floppy disk and keyboard.
Photo by bert b on Unsplash

What it might help to remember is that the concept of computers was developed by those who are seniors today. The evolution of the technology that is used today came from the ideas and skills of people who are now aging. Technology is not new. Sure, there are new developments. Progress is being made, changes and improvements are happening every day, but they were happening sixty years ago as well. It was the changes and improvements of generations gone by that led us to where we are today.

When my daughter’s friends were impressed by my mother’s ability to use social media and technology in general, I was amused. Unfortunately, this is not only the opinion of the average teenager. The assumption that somehow age is a factor in deciding one’s abilities is really frustrating.  Equally, older adults should not discount the abilities of younger people. All generations should use their knowledge and experience to help improve and streamline many things, both business and personal, to operate more efficiently.

What We Need to Learn from This

The takeaway from this is that judging what someone is capable of should never be based on their age. It is insulting at both ends of the spectrum. There is a lot to learn from each other and if everyone would just take the time to listen instead of discounting one another based on age, many ideas and concepts could be developed. This would be to everyone’s benefit. 

Have your skills ever been prejudged based on your age? I’d love to hear about some of your experiences.