/ Technology

Your view: you’re never too old for modern technology

Man with smartphone

I’m glad I had the courage to ask the question of whether you can be too old for new tech. It had the distinct possibility of back-firing, but instead the Which? Convo community gave me gold after gold comment.

Hugh would be lost without modern technology:

‘At nearly 96 (correct!) I am still using desktop, laptop, iPad and mobile phone every day and would be lost without Skype – having a large extended family overseas – I consider you are never too old to learn.’

Tony explains how technology has helped him:

‘I am 89 and lost my short term memory over two years ago. I have always loved new technology, so it was hard not to be able to use my computer nor, at first, my iPad. I have since regained a lot of memory although not very short term memory. One of my most useful possessions is a talking watch which is great – I always know the day and date. It is all coming back.’

Uppy says it’s never too late:

‘Too late? Never. I’m 82, a bit slow on picking up all the great things you can do on the web, but I get help from my six-month-old grandson! But I’m nearly as fast as him. I have an oldish computer, an iPhone and an iPad. My wife told me to get a hobby, but think she now regrets this. Well, all I can say to anyone is get on the web, it’s a mine of information and opens a new world for everyone.’

At the top of their game

Shireen has been helping others get to grips with modern tech:

‘At the age of 60 I had an idea for an online business – an educational site with non-patronising content for older learners with literacy problems such as dyslexia. I used my retirement lump sum to finance it and the site was launched in 2002. I wrote all the content, planned the web layout, links etc but got techies to do the actual programming.

‘I ran it myself for several years but it outgrew me (it’s now used in over 60 countries) so I teamed up with the original techie guys and we now run it together. At age 72 I’m still very much involved.

‘We oldies still have something to contribute, as well as something to gain from new technology.’

Pjaj’s smartphone is more up-to-date than mine (I have the Google Nexus 4):

‘I’m 70 and my children bought me a new Google Nexus 5 for Christmas to replace my old smartphone and I’m loving it. I build my own PCs from scratch and have recently downloaded a new video game which I play. My smart TV is connected to the FTTP broadband (nearly 1Gb/sec) and I’m thinking of installing a streaming server for video and music. So don’t tell me that I’m too old for new tech!’

The wonder of modern tech

And finally, I want to end on the inspirational comment from Avis:

‘What strikes me when I hold my smartphone in my hand is the sheer magic of it all.

‘Here is something smaller than a box of kitchen matches, and just look what it will do! If I want to see a picture, hear a tune, communicate with someone, buy something on eBay or Amazon, find out the opening hours of a museum or shop, take a photo or a video, then send that photo to a friend, find a map an aerial view and a street view of almost anywhere in the world, and find my way home if I am lost – the list just goes on and on.

‘Think back just a few years, and consider just how amazing this technology is, and how inventive people have been. OK, there are downsides, of course there are, but far outweighed to my mind by the opportunities. And sometimes it is hard to get one’s head around the new stuff and how to use it – but I consider it a privilege to make the effort to learn.’

Thanks Avis for your words on the wonder of modern technology – your comment will be featured on the Which? Convo homepage!

Do you have a story to share about how technology has enriched your life?


What never ceases to fascinate and amaze me about new technology is how does the remote key activate the lock on my car through the metallic garage door before I open it? Someone will know the answer to this so can they please enlighten.

The metal garage door acts as a ‘Faraday cage’ and greatly decreases the signal strength but does not eliminate it.

With hindsight, I don’t think my explanation was very good, Beryl. A Faraday cage would surround the receiver, providing greater loss (attenuation) of the radio signal. Nevertheless, the effect of the metal garage door is to decrease the signal.

Hi Beryl

Although metal may act as a radio signal attenuator, different metals have different levels of attenuation. In a Faraday cage, the whole ‘cage’ is enshrouded in a fine metal mesh which importantly is well earthed, thus minimising any signal penetration.

A garage door, on the other hand, is hanging on hinges and is well insulated from the ground. So it may act as an passive director in the same way that the elements of an antenna are directors and reflectors to strengthen the signal.

Sometimes when you drive you car through a long tunnel, the radio may still continue to work throughout the tunnel. This is achieved by installing appropriate repeating antennas along the tunnel which passes the signal from antenna to antenna. These are called passive repeaters and are very common in Europe.

I’m guessing that your garage door acts as a passive repeater.

Another phenomena to try with your car key is to walk away from your car until the key can no longer open/close the lock (you’re out of range). Now hold the key firmly against your forehead with the pointed bit facing the car and activate the key again!

Hi Terfar and Wavechange

I am not at all sure exactly what I have let myself in for here but many thanks for the explanations – I got the gist of it! I was always under the impression a Faraday Cage was intended to distribute the electromagnetism penetration around the exterior thereby protecting the interior, which added to the confusion. The garage door is an up and over type and is not electronically operated, which is why I could not understand how the signal could penetrate through a metal door! I discovered this phenomenon one day when I couldn’t remember if I had locked the car after closing the garage door so promptly pressed the remote key to see what would happen [being too lazy to re open it] and was truly amazed at the result!

I will try the little experiment with the key as long as it doesn’t trigger a migraine headache in the process, but would hazard a guess that it has something to do with the amount of static my body emits!

I thought I was the only one who holds their car remote control against their head, as Terfar has described. I do this if I am not sure I have locked the door and am out of normal operating range. 🙂

Getting back to technology, I often put my MiFi (wireless version of a mobile broadband dongle) on the roof of the car when I stop for a break on a journey and want to use my iPad. That avoids the screening effect of the roof etc of the car.

In days gone by, cars used externally mounted aerials to compensate for the screening effect of the bodywork. Then we had some models that used the rear window heater as an aerial. My present car has excellent reception on both DAB and FM bands and I suspect that the aerial is at the edge(s) of the windscreen. I hope I am still interested in how things work when I get older.

I am 51 and love technology.I admit it can make you lazy, but for me it has made live so much easier.From banking to exercise and to just google something you want to know, it just helps with life every day.I think a lot but certainly not ALL people past 60 write all forms of technology off until they ask you to find cheeper car insurance for them-get there car tax for them etc etc….i just wish older people would give it a go without hating any this new technology.Even a cheep tablets are easy to use.

Well at 68 I only consider myself barely middle-aged, but I couldn’t live without technology. Absolutely at the top of the list are email and my Google Calendar. But wrist-tech doesn’t appeal to me yet.

I don’t like wearing a wristwatch for starters, so it has that hurdle to climb. But honestly, what is wrist-tech going to provide me that my mobile doesn’t already achieve? And you can’t take a decent photo with it (yet).

I won’t rule it out as a never though. You never know where it may lead!

Ebay has recently asked people to update their passwords. When typing in the user id, it takes us to a web site which asks people to contact ebay via email or phone (to obtain a PIN). What can you do when you have lost the password to the email address and the telephone number was from your previous address? Yes, it shows how important it is to update these details ASAP. I did contact the current phone user, but he was unable to help as he appeared to have a fault on the line. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Ideally, I would need a an ebay contact number to speak to someone.

This is not a comment more of a request for guidance. I have a 42inch LG smart tv nearly five years old, I already had a Samsung 40inch (not smart) tv but wanted to Skype my son and family across the pond on a large screen. This was great for several months then LG dropped Skype now I have to use my iPad. Can I do any thing relatively simple as an alternative. I am 80 in a few weeks, my wife and I each have an iPad but we don’t have need for a computer or more than basic smart phones.

Can you use an Apple tv box to link your iPad to you TV?

You can. Once you have a relatively inexpensive Apple TV connected to your set, simply select the HDMI channel to which it’s connected and the Apple TV will automatically sense the iPad. It’s then only a matter of selecting the app concerned and using the ‘airplay’ option to display the iPad screen on the TV.