“Older Australians” And technology. Busting a myth.

If there is anything guaranteed to get my gander up it is when I see references to “older Australians” and apparently, how they need help understanding and / or using technology.

Gosh, they need a special clock so that it can remind them to take their medication, or a radio needs big buttons because their poor gnarled, arthritic fingers cannot cope, or TV remotes need to be nice and simple because, well, all those options are confusing.

What offends me is the supposition that because someone is apparently past some mythical use by date, suddenly technology cannot be understood any more. It’s as if the idea is there that all this stuff just magically appeared and in history, when “older Australians” were younger, things were so much simpler. Current technology was still on the distant horizon and now it is here, it is too complicated for them to understand.

There, there dear, don’t fret about it. Go and have a nice cup o’ tea and we’ll sort it out for you.

Bah!

Well here is a bit of an eye opener. I had my first digital watch in 1974. Yep. 50 years ago. And believe it or not, VCR’s had remotes back then too.

I had my first computer in 1980. And a camera in 1987 that read bar codes on rolls of film to correctly set ISO (ASA).

The simple fact is nothing is ever “new”. Not really. It’s all variations on themes and improvements.

As many know, for a bit of fun and pocket money I have a casual job at the local Jaycar, a technology store. For those that have never heard of Jaycar or set foot in a Jaycar store, they sell everything from security systems to solar panels, 3D printers to USB cables, LED lighting to TV aerials and electronics components and kits to audio and video connections and decoders.

Plus a swag of 12v stuff.

I believe there are something like 18,000 line items on the shelves. And every shift I see these so-called “older Australians” quite happily purchasing technology including “smart home” stuff like smart lights, power points and the like.

Sure, the occasional person gets confused pairing a set of Bluetooth headphones, or setting up a dash cam, but they are not exclusively “older Australians”, not by a long shot.

I’ve seen teenagers bamboozled by an RCA cable.

In my own specialist sphere of technology, video and film making, most of the people I come across in the “older” demographic run rings around people 40 years younger in terms of computer usage and expertise via editing and special effects.

In fact, a high school science and computing teacher told me not that long ago for every parent who says their child is a whizz at computers, he’ll show you one that can download porn play on an Xbox, but that’s about it. Give them something real like Excel, Word or DaVinci Resolve and they are stuffed.

So, I say get off this “older Australian” bandwagon nonsense as a general opinion of all over a certain age – whatever that is. They, we, are not all technology incompetent any less than the rest population.

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2 Comments

  1. I built my own computer in 1981, then built a memory upgrade from scratch the year after. The difference between then and now is my soldering iron has gathered dust. There are things I don’t get that some younger people think is silly: NFTs look like a scam and I don’t understand quantum computers – but there are people half my age who would say the same thing.

    • HI Bill, the biggest issue is that “they” think we don’t get it. In reality, as I tell people every day, “we” invented it… “we” made it easier to use. By “us” inventing the way to make the code, to make it easy for “them” to use it it to make it work.

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