Technology

People talked about all kinds of technology, including computers, iPads, the internet and social media, and expressed a range of views about it. They also spoke about various appliances such as mobile phones, digital cameras and audio-visual equipment (TV, DVDs and hi-fi).

Some people “loved” the internet and said that they “couldn’t live without it”; others said that they had “no interest” and “no need” for it. Dot, for example, said that people who are resistant to using a computer are “missing one of the great developments in our century”. In contrast, Dolores said “I just don’t need it at the moment” and “I’m not missing out on anything because if I had it I would never do any work around the house or garden”.

Margaret says the internet is her connection to the world and she is really happy living today and having that access.

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Earl did not follow technological changes but now he is “as happy as a pig in mud” playing with his computers.

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Everything seems to be a little more difficult than it used to be which is frustrating for Val.

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Janet avoids social media and doesn’t carry a mobile phone because she would rather deal with people face to face.

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The people who spoke to us used modern technology for a range of reasons including keeping in touch with family and friends via email and social media. They used online banking and shopping, played games such as bridge, and they used search engines for information, especially about current events and health-related issues.

Marie uses the internet for research and would not want to live without it.

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Marjorie uses the internet for health information.

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Distrust in new technologies and checking the credibility of information on the internet were issues for a few people. Jack does not always take his mobile phone with him because he does not like it ringing when he is out. Leonie admitted to a “kind of unconscious resistance” to new technologies. Dot checks the reliability of health and medical information by looking at and comparing several sites but she finds email a burden.

Earl does not do internet banking because he is worried about hackers and scams.

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A few people who were not confident with technology talked about feeling “isolated” and “left behind”. Marjorie organises a golf club mailing list and says it is a nuisance when members are not contactable by email. Colleen said that branch members of her local Country Women’s Association who are not on email “miss out”. She is also worried about the impact of online shopping on rural businesses. Merrilyn finds not being connected to the internet quite difficult, especially if she sees an advertisement on television and the only address given is a website.

Leonie does “not like to talk to machines” and does not keep up with technological changes, both of which add to her feeling of isolation.

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Robyn thinks seniors can be left behind if they do not communicate via social media.

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Many people went to courses to learn how to use their computer and/or iPad. Libraries and local councils often run free courses and fee-paying classes are also run by the likes of TAFE, University of the Third Age (U3A) and Council on the Ageing (COTA). Some people said that learning about and keeping up with new technologies became harder with age and that they required constant repetition and practice so they wouldn’t forget. Other people said that they were not too old to learn. Sabihe thinks the saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is not true” and that “you can teach them a lot better because they have more time” to practice and fewer distractions.

Oscar says that he is not too old to learn but the children are really clever with technology.

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Earl went to the library for free computer tuition but says he is too old to learn to touch type.

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Learning to use new technologies could be a frustrating business, especially when there is constant change. Many people relied on family support to help them over barriers. Several people marvelled at the ability of younger generations to manage new technologies with ease.

Merrilyn goes to her children, grandchildren or telephone company when she has trouble with Facebook.

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Robin is dependent on his children to help with new technology.

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