/ Technology

Your view: can you be too old for new tech?

Paper speech bubble men

There was a debate on Which? Conversation that recently piqued my interest. It was on whether new gadgets, like smartwatches, were of interest to people over the age of 60…

I’ve always wondered whether in retirement I’d be as interested in new technology. Would I still have my love for video games, for example?

Maybe I still would, but perhaps I’d long for a good ‘old fashioned’ physical controller, rather than playing games in a holographic virtual world as the latest craze might be in the year 2060.

I’d like to think I’d still be open to new technology and new experiences in 2060, but who knows?

No interest in the latest ‘gimmicks’?

And now I’m going to have to take a step back, for fear of sounding patronising to those already in retirement. The reason I bring up these musings is because of a comment made on a Conversation by tech researcher Mike Plant in favour of smartwatches. Joe commented:

‘I sometimes wish Which? would employ their researchers a bit nearer the average age of the Which? reader, late 40s, 50s? As you can see 62% of us have no interest whatsoever in the latest techno gimmick that in reality does nothing to enhance your life whatsoever. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Maybe it does add something exciting to the life of someone in their 20s and 30s. However, anything that records, tracks, reports, monitors my every movement fills me with horror.

‘Maybe some kind of wearable technology will become essential in your everyday life but it will not in mine.’

BobC loves his FitBit

I’m with Joe on his disdain for smartwatches, as argued in a post earlier this week. However, I was pleased to see the following comments in response. BobC said:

‘I’ve reached the ripe ‘old’ age of 67. I’ve recently worked my way through three different smartphones before settling on a Galaxy Note 3. I also have a Fitbit that I use in conjunction with MyFitnessPal – it’s great and has helped me lose some weight and get enough exercise.

‘Can people please accept that you can be over 60 and have a fascination with and skill in using technology!’

Agatha agreed:

‘I just want to support BobC and others like us. I am 56 and also love new technology, it’s creative, fun and useful so I for one welcome any info on what’s new and available out there!’

So, for fear of posing a patronising question, do you think you can be too old to have a passion for new tech?

trev nicholls says:
12 April 2014

How dare anybody from anywhere even suggest such a point of view. I’m going on 72 and covered in hi tech kit. The only issue I have is why is it so unreliable and unnecessarily made complex? Could be big business driving this issue. Remember they know more about you than you know yourself and now they have my comment on record to use as they see fit. Remember your as old as you feel.

I am 70, still working part-time but mostly retired and work on a Samsung tablet on long work journeys by train with a wireless MiFi. I also use a Samsung S4 (though I miss my Blackberry!). Fascinated by new technology – but need to justify it – and afford it – to buy it. Have even read music from the tablet for a band practice.

How we love generalisations. I know people who never “took on anything new”after the age of 25 and people who are still “experimenting” in their 80s and 90s. Personally, I find things with complex keystroke sequences difficult to remember, but then I’ve always considered that to be a failure of design rather than my memory with age. As a recent convert to the iPad, I find the touchscreen capability is a big improvement for me, although now beginning to develop arthritis in one hand, there are some limitations, but these would apply to other interfaces too – but then there is voice recognition……..

Using Facebook chat, I was able to explain to my 35 y o daughter in Scotland why her central heating boiler wasn’t working and what she needed to do to get it working while I was sitting on the pacific coast of Costa Rica where there was no mobile phone reception – useful technology.

I am 70 and like to know what is going on in the world, including latest technology. Some of it I use and enjoy, and some of it I don’t choose to have. It is all about choice and that is what the Which reviews give us. If I choose not to have something new, at least I know what others are doing or talking about.
I am at that comfortable age where I don’t just have to have the latest gadget as a fashion icon, or some kind of statement to my peers. If I choose to have it, it is because I find it useful or just enjoy using it.

At 82 I find there are only two problems. The tech companies pile junk in that I would never use in order to get what is essential. e.g. Doro has not carried its “hearing aid compatable” feature to its new smartphone. OK, most have loud speakers but who wants everyone in the 1640 from Exeter to hear you’ll be into Waterloo a few moments late. Second, the accelerating screen sizes require a knee length suit or overcoat. My Saville Row stuff of ’60s through -80s are not worn out yet and my tailor is dead. Three cheers for Kindle: I can read anything I want, anywhere I want without risking backache.

Once a lover of technology, always a lover of technology regardless of age but, like so many things, I’m much better at choosing which gadget is right for my lifestyle in my 60s rather than the latest ‘must have’! I so love the ability to choose when and where to watch TV programmes and the ability to access a wealth of information on the internet, shop, keep track of finances or stay in contact with family/friends via my mobile, iPad or laptop (and exercise the grey matter with a plethora of brain games!)

At 64, I am still a relatively young oldie compared with some of the commentators here I suppose. I started working as a computer programmer in 1967 and stayed in the business, one way or another, until I retired in 2010. I don’t know what I would do without computers but held off on a smartphone for years, considering them expensive gadgets, only for youffs to be seen with. However, last year I succumbed to a Samsung S4 and wonder why I didn’t earlier. Although I don’t make that many calls or texts, it is my mp3 player, my GPS and map display for walking, my camera (for casual stuff anyway), an ever-present route to the internet, reference to dictionary/thesaurus and a game station. Not so expensive if I consider how much each of these other functions would have cost separately. Oh, and it makes phone calls too!
I don’t follow technology too seriously, after so many years having to do just that, but I like to keep tabs on what might actually help me. On the other hand, if my mother was still alive, she would have been totally lost. Despite my trying to explain what I did etc, she wouldn’t even use an ATM. Everybody is different and age doesn’t really come into it.

john coke says:
13 April 2014

I find at 79 I have to be careful not to go into technical overload .
I started on an Amstrad( remember gruesome Alan Sugar) hated it then I got a desktop computer with Windows XP 10 years ago at 69 went to classes on word etc and am now very comfortable with word, websites and emails .I find classes far better than books I just cannot learn from an instruction book.
I also find now though that I get tired quicker and do not have the enthusiasm for new technology.
My son at 46 years has just persuaded me to buy an Ipad I can see its benefits but there are no classes except Apples .PLEASE if any one knows of self teach classes on line for Ipads email me..HOW ABOUT WHICH PUTTING SOMETHING ON LINE.

I do think WHICH caters for an age group say 25/35 this is inevitable to some extent but I agree they should not assume all their readers are in this range.

Finally I really dislike those people who boast in their posts of being technical geniuses at 60+ get for real we all have different needs and abilities !!

Interest in technology has little to do with age and more to do with lifestyle. At 72 I do however agree with the comment about complexity. I have been using a desktop running XP for about 12 years but having bought a new laptop with Windows 8 I find it incredibly difficult to work with and completely non-intuitive. It may be fine for geeks, nerds and experts but for the ordinary user give me something simple.

john coke says:
13 April 2014

try windows seven its just like XP I have it and it is fine .
My geek warned me off windows 8 and he was right .

Ask friends who have windows 7 what they think

I agree about Windows 8 but if you are not in a position to change to a different operating system (eg Windows 7) I think you would find that updating to Windows 8.1 and then installing Update 1 would give you a system which causes you fewer problems – but you may need help making these changes!

Sophie Gilbert says:
13 April 2014

The assumption that over 60s are too old for new tech is just as annoying as women can’t drive and white men can’t jump.

Norman Naylor says:
14 April 2014

If you don’t know it’s there, the newest technology can be of no use to you. So for me, I want to be aware of anything new and what it can do. But I share the view of Larna, in that I will pick and choose the technology I buy, purely on the basis of how useful it is to me, personally.

What this means is that the prospect of monitoring my every move and heartbeat, I find completely useless whereas, finding the optimum set up to access my music, photos, video etc., stored on my computer in a spare room, on my TV in another room, seems a worthwhile objective
I haven’t quite got there yet.

I’m 73 by the way.

Age has nothing to do with having an interest in gadgets ….. you either love them or hate them. Personally, I think they’re great. I love experimenting with new technology. I worked full-time (in a new job) for 7 years after I retired and now do voluntary work teaching IT skills and managing a website for an Over 50s Forum. When a new gadget is released on to the market, I find it hard to resist but ….. sometimes manage it.

Jackie says:
14 April 2014

This morning I took part in a market research group for people aged 60 – 70 at which we discussed use of mobile phones. There were 6 of us – 3 had iPhone/iPad/iMacs (yes all three things) and were really into technology the other 3 had ancient Nokias and didn’t do anything with their phones except make calls and send texts.

By the end of the session I think the 3 non-techies were beginning to realise the potential of smartphones, not have known previously about all the things you can do with them. The beauty of the Apple products is that they are so intuitive that you don’t need to be shown how to use them – anything you don’t know you can google to find the answer.

I started in IT as a programmer in 1966 and you could lose data or days of work with a single keystroke but everything can be backed up to the cloud these days and there are lots of built-in safeguards to stop you doing anything really silly. The key is to experiment and don’t be afraid to try anything.

btw one of the non-tech participants recommended a subscription service called The Geek Squad which she uses if she has a computer problem. They have a helpline for phones, tablets and computers 24/7 and their website has some useful info too.

John Ling says:
16 April 2014

Am coming up for 70 and cannot be without technology. Love it and devour it like breakfast cereal and in varying degrees I agree with most comments posted on this subject. I guess its the challenge of getting ones brain around how ‘stuff ‘ works that does it for me. The latest has been Google’s new Chromecast – wow ! that was something else and far from simple as Google claim. Even now I’ve only got it working from my tablet (a Nexus 7) – not yet working from my laptop.

Buttington says:
16 April 2014

Wavechange & Figgerty
I can see why the little ‘memory lapses’ would be frustrating but I don’t think it’s just restricted to the seniors who have joined the ‘hereafters’. For some years now I have employed little tricks as an aide memoir- 20 years ago I was putting my car keys in the fridge at work so I’d remember to take the shopping home!
If remembering the phone really is a problem why not consider adding an alert tag to your keyset? There are quite a few on the market now ( though you’d have to check the U.S. ones were legal & would work over here) from the TILE which rents for $20 a year & needs no charging to the COBRA selling about £25-30 which needs charging 1-2 times a week.
Most work on the proximity to your phone’s Bluetooth signal but some can be set to a specific location. Useful for straying grandchildren & dogs too!
Back on topic- we recently gave my 88 y o Mum an IPad & I thought she was rising well to the challenge (she’s previously had difficulty operating the VCR!) until I read some of the comments here.
I too am frustrated by the loss of XP- but I guess it’s mainly to do with expecting things to last a lot longer than they are now designed for! Many of the software & OS improvements require higher level memory & processors than our old boxes can be fitted with.

Buttington – I am a lot better at looking after my keys than I used to be. When I had double-glazed doors fitted 20 years ago, my keys had to live inside the front door lock so that I can get out in emergency. The back door key lives in the door for the same reason, or out of sight nearby when I go out. What helped me keep track of my work keys was to keep all the infrequently used ones in a desk drawer and carry the much smaller essential small bunch with me at all times. I expect that I will get into a routine of charging my smartphone every day and picking it up before going out. I won’t be buying a bluetooth alert but I can see that they could be very useful.

I hope that Microsoft will move to making operating system upgrades available free of charge, as Apple has done. This has allowed me to try out the new operating system on an older computer. I have done this and saw a message that my anti-virus software is not compatible. That will help me be prepared when I get round to updating the computer I use daily.

Throughout my life I have struggled to remember people’s names. I suppose I could use my phone or other gadget, but pencil and paper works as well as it ever did.

Stanwaddles says:
19 April 2014

I am surprised by this series of letters in which people of 60 to 70 consider they are in an old age bracket. Times have changed and 60 is now just middle age.

We must keep our brains active with new thought systems in the same way as exercising ones muscles.

New gadgets and computer systems are an excellent way of doing this.

I accept that memory is impaired with with advancing age, but this inevitable progress can be slowed by acquiring new ways of thinking, which enables extra pathways to be opened up in the brain.

I am now in my ninety second year and have just changed to Windows 7 after an unhappy flirtation with Windows 8.

I was given an iPad at the age of 90 which I found to be the best gadget ever for everyday need.
To confirm this, I tried the Android system which was acceptable and not difficult to learn.
Instruction books are available for all these new gadgets since the manuals supplied are poor.

My latest acquisition is an iPhone which is another incredible advance, particularly the diary which syncs with the iPad.

The cost is an item, but at my age I do not need a new car every third year so I buy gadgets instead.

Nellie says:
21 April 2014

I am 76, use email & www, but struggle. Rarely use my mobile (basic), bought it for emergencies but on the 3 occasions when I have had an real emergency I found it didn’t work in woodland. What use is that??? My sister has a friend in her 90s who was very savvy with computer stuff until she went blind and is now getting to grips with something or other that responds to her voice. Each to his own!!!!!!!

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The best I’ve experienced are the ones I’ve bought in ALDIS! Namely their ‘LUCARA for men’ brand at £ 2.99 for 3x blades and shaver bubble pack, and £ 2.99 for their 6x refill pack!
Absolutley brilliant, great shave, smooth shave as goog as the best gillette branded shavers and wilkinson too, and last long too!
Way cheaper then the other Supermarket branded manual shaver brands too!