How do people in their 50s, 60s and 70s use technology?

Infographic from AARP report on older Americans and technology.
Infographic from AARP report on older Americans and technology.

How do people in their 50s, 60s and 70s use technology? How do we differ from younger people in our use of communication devices and social media? A report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) examines the current situation in the United States. Interesting!

Middle-aged and older people are no longer a bunch of reluctant beginners. We do use technology a lot, and we use it differently at different ages.

The infographic just scratches the surface: the report has different findings for subjects in their 50s, 60s and 70s. A few random facts:

  • Over half of people in their 70s use their computer for playing games
  • Most 50+ tend not to trust privacy protection on the internet, yet only a minority take steps to protect their privacy (I guess we’re not alone there)
  • Only 17% of those in their 70s use the internet to take webinars or classes, or watch how-to tutorials, a drop from 27% for those in their 60s
  • Among those under 70, text messaging has overtaken email as the tool most used to stay in touch

50+ use tech to communicate

How does your use of technology match the norms revealed in the AARP survey?

Of course, individuals won’t match the stats: you and I use tech and social media in our own sweet way.

At a glance, I’m more active on social media than most 70+ users, a keen learner, half-hearted about password protection and other privacy measures, a heavy user of the smartphone, and typically, lacking wearables. Maybe my birth certificate is at fault.

How about you?

Read more about the AARP report on Tech and older adults

Read the full report: Technology use and attitudes among mid-life and older Americans

Read Ronni Bennett’s take on this report: Time Goes By is always a great read.
Technology alert: Time Goes By is a Typepad blog, and opens in a new window

20 thoughts on “How do people in their 50s, 60s and 70s use technology?

  1. My 91 year old mum loves her iPad. Technology can be very beneficial to older people – we can communicate easily via iMessage, whereas calling is tricky because she is quite deaf.

  2. I don’t think it’s age that’s a factor but health, Rachel. If only these so-called experts would test on health not age. If my mental processes were as good now as they were say ten years ago, I’d be using technology much more than I do these days. I don’t have a mobile phone (didn’t use it much when I did have it as I couldn’t see the damn keys properly!) but it seems that if I don’t get one soon my bank services won’t work as they’re switching over to phone based notifications. I’m social online more than I am offline (though no longer like Facebook much). I’ve never been one for the phone (even landline) so writing is better for me. I use email more than anything, really. Oh – and blogs! 🙂

    1. I wish I had bought a big-screen smartphone last time around. I was thinking more about pockets than eyesight and fat fingers! That’s outrageous, if your bank demands you use a phone for transactions! I love my phone but notice accessibility issues frequently.

  3. No surprise that people in the 70+ group should be comfortable with desktops/laptops and email – many will have used them in the work place for years.

    Smartphones (as opposed to a basic text and call mobile) may be less attractive. Apart from the cost, doing research, shopping, reading, and viewing on a small screen isn’t a particularly attractive option if there’s a larger screen handy.

    I’m happy with my smartphone, but can’t help wondering if I really need to carry immediate access to the internet around with me. It’s good for reading e-books while travelling, though.

  4. I’ve just run into some “errors” that my older laptop is generating – and it seemed to get under way big-time when it wanted to and I think it did “upgrade” something…

    Not sure what avenue I am going to go down now with what I need… another laptop or go back to new generation desktop – still much research to do – so will limp along here…

    .but I have found a way “for now” to have less of those “errors” actually many times it has to do where the gadget decides to “re-route” things…took ages to find the photo I took today – because it’s now March. It certainly wasn’t where you have put the February & back to 2014…pictures!!!

    MS Word was the culprit as well, but I may have side tracked with another office type of software downloaded – that is until “this gadget works out what is happening…” no doubt it will!!!

    I’ve a smaller sized smart phone that has capabilities but I use it for only certain things…however, I do like that I can easily uninstall APPS if need be.

  5. I’m with you. I use it in a very laissez faire way.
    As part of my job, I teach basic computer skills and most of my pupils are 70 plus. Often their children have gifted them a tablet or smartphone and eventually run out of patience teaching them how to use it. And then there are the women who’s husbands have tried teaching them. You should never let your husband teach you to drive a car or a computer. 🙂

  6. I’m sixty years young, a woman, and I’m studying for the Comp TIA A+ exam. I got an Associates Degree about four years ago in Computer Support. I also built my own computer, which I’m using right now. I hate the stereotypes that older people are technology illiterate, and I really don’t think I’m an exception to the rule.

    1. You are not an exception. Stereotypes get stuck while the world moves on. Sure, those who were 80 in 1995 may well have resisted technology, but meantime even 55year olds like me were in boots and all. Today’s old people began it all.

    2. You are so right! I’m 61, took the CompTia A+ classes and passed one test, but struggle with the Network pice of the program. But still trying! I hope to get Network Security too but it’s expensive. I work in a hospital on their electronic medical records and love it. I’m use all Apple devices, except a Mac and that’s what my blog is about. Sharing the ways to make technology work for you. We are the generation who has the ability regardless of what our kids say! Best of luck on your exams!!

  7. I’m in my 50s and rely on technology at work and in life. Sometimes it’s frustrating not understanding the ins and outs of it all as well as my younger peers who grew up with it. I’ve read it’s easier to learn a foreign language as a child. Technology is a foreign language, as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Good point! I am trying to learn a tiny bit of Korean right now and it doesn’t stick well. Karen, have you done our Older Bloggers survey yet? Good place to vent! There’s a link on my blog.

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