Senior Spotlight: Keeping connected with family and friends

Maureen Wendt

Although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology use than the general public, this group is more digitally connected than ever. In fact, some groups of seniors report owning and using various technologies at rates similar to adults under the age of 65. Still, there remains a notable digital divide between younger and older Americans.

With smartphone ownership in the U.S. more than doubling in the past five years, Americans are embracing mobile technology at a rapid pace. And while usage rates among seniors continue to trail those of the overall population, the share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013.

Today, roughly half of older adults who own cellphones have some type of smartphone; in 2013, that share was just 23%.

As is true of the population as a whole, internet use among seniors has risen steadily over the last decade and a half, as well. When tracking internet use began in early 2000, just 14% of seniors were internet users. But today, 67% of adults ages 65 and older say they go online.

Roughly one-third (32%) of seniors say they own tablet computers.

Social media is increasingly becoming an important platform where people find news and information, share their experiences and connect with friends and family. And just as internet use and smartphone ownership has grown among seniors, so has social media use.

Today, 34% of Americans ages 65 and up say they use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. This represents a seven-point increase from 2013, when 27% of older adults reported using social media. Still, a majority of seniors do not use social media, and the share that do is considerably smaller than that of the general population. As with other forms of digital technology, younger seniors are more likely than their older counterparts to use social media.

Technology may be an option for folks to stay in touch with children, grandchildren or friends who are no longer close. Navigating technology can be difficult if you are new to it — from learning how to use a new phone or tablet to learning how to avoid common internet or email scams if you are using technology. The Dale Association is here to help. If you are one of the people who want to learn more, join us each month for a new technology series that will cover a variety of topics designed to help you.

Beginners Tech Class — is being offered at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at 33 Ontario St., Lockport. Bring your phone, tablet, or laptop and questions. The “beginners class” will cover the basics from turning the device on, making calls, texting or other questions you have as you learn how to use your device or want to know more about it. You will have the opportunity to work one-on-one to get to know more about how your device can work for you. Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat and let us know what device you will be bringing. FREE

Google It - is being offered 10 a.m. Aug. 27 at 33 Ontario St., Lockport. You will learn how to search the internet for information you want. You will learn what Google is, how to navigate it, and about the search results. Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat for this free workshop also.

Working one-on-one will give you the opportunity to ask your questions and get answers that will help you feel more comfortable using your technology to stay connected with family and friends.

 

Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 433-1937 or visit www.daleassociation.com .