Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seniors and Computers

I. For reasons obvious to anyone who has seen the real me or an unretouched photo lately, I am especially interested in media references to senior citizens, basically the over-65 crowd. I am a member of that "club."

According to an article by Mary Gale Hare in the Business section of the July 6 Chicago Tribune (originally from the Baltimore Sun), "Seniors [are] surging to [the] Internet."

"In recent years, seniors have been hooking up to the Internet at a rate that far outpaces the rest of the population." The number of American users over 65 jumped more than 160 percent since 2000, while no other age segment grew more than 70 percent during the same period.

Some seniors are seeking lower-priced goods, government help, and/or discounts. Others are seeking information or connections to their families or to other seniors.

"Advocates for older Americans believe the trend is crucial to maintaining a healthy life style. 'We would like to see those numbers go up and for seniors to be more engaged,' said Tiffany Lindquist, spokeswoman for the Maryland office of AARP. 'Computers are an important way to stay connected, and that's important to successful aging.'"

I spend a lot of time on the Internet, where I blog, do research, order things, and communicate with others, often vis the eGenerations web site ("The Choice of the Experienced - Boomers, Seniors, 50 Plus," http://egenerations.com/). However, I still read newspapers, magazines, and books. A few of my friends are still resisting computers (they are obviously not reading this), sometimes because they see the matter as an either-or choice versus print media or as a "new-fangled," hard-to-learn nuisance. 'Taint so. As one formerly reluctant 69-year-old computer buff who now helps teach senior computer classes in Maryland says, "Everybody gets a computer eventually." I hope so.

II. The July 5 Chicago Sun-Times featured an interview by Misha Davenport of Ruth Bender, a 90-plus suburban Chicago senior who received an honorary degree from Kendall College recently. Ruth lost her family in the Holocaust during the Nazi regime, but made a new life for herself in the United States.

Here, she got the education she had been denied in Germany. "I will never stop learning. Education is all around you. Every day you can learn something from young children or anybody. You just have to be willing to learn."

Ruth is obviously a fascinating senior. And this part of the story especially interested me: "I received my first computer at age 90. I am comfortable with technology and very happy with my computer. . . . My daughter keeps telling me about new sites and things. I want to experience everything for myself. I'm trying to stay young and keeping up with things on the computer is just one way of staying connected."

Bravo, Ruth. And if anyone reading this knows a senior who is still resisting computers, pass the word along!

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

2 comments:

Paul said...

it's good that the media and the public are starting to catch up to the facts. And I'd like to see the web get more mature, user friendly, and easier to use for everyone. Most web sites are still too flashy without substance in my opinion.

Great column on egenerations by the way. Writing and getting involved on the net are great for the psyche.

seniorwriter said...

Thanks! I think too many web sites, including senor sites, are trying to becomme ever more flashy with the hope of attracting more members and making money. That's the American way, but I hope someone realizes that we seniors would be more impressed by ease of use.
Marlys