The topic of women over 50 and their use of modern technology has already been touched upon a few times in this blog. Today, I want to revisit the subject and throw the issue of technophobia into the mix – a phenomenon that differs from your usual trepidations about digitization. Although it is most commonly associated with older generations, it is by no means limited to them. When you look at the statistics, the number of people from our fab generation who claim to have never used a computer is still a little baffling to me.
Overall, the number of non-internet users has declined across all age groups over the years, yet 10% of people in the UK between the ages of 55-64 still aren’t online. Additionally, three out of ten seniors over the age of 65 have never used a computer, let alone surfed the web. Reason enough to ask: What is going on?
Is technophobia really a generational issue?
I’m sure everyone reading this knows elderly people who are so unaccustomed with computer lingo, that they add an article to every term they come across. “How do I get this internet?” or “Why are you on the Facebook?” are questions that probably all of us have heard on numerous occasions. I think it is not at all surprising that those who – unlike “digital natives” – spent most of their life without computers and modern media, would find themselves in unfamiliar territory once they start entering the digital world.
There are good reasons to have sympathies for the 40% of seniors above the age of 75 who don’t use the internet, because they are either incapacitated by health-related problems or simply can’t see the need for it now. Although their lives could be improved to a significant degree by the benefits of computer and internet access, a certain level of technophobia among people from this age group is widely accepted.
With the late baby boomers or even the early “Generation X”, anti-technology sentiments aren’t quite so forgiving. As long as most of us are active members of the working population, we simply cannot afford to reject digitization, granted that we want to keep our jobs and our career prospects. Even as pensioners, do we really want to exclude ourselves from modern technology and risk losing touch with our children and grandchildren whose environment is becoming more and more tech-driven by the day?
To be clear, none of us needs to be particularly computer-savvy to keep in touch with modern developments, but basic knowledge should simply be a no-brainer in our day and age – there is no time for denial, so what’s better than to accept it and jump on the bandwagon now?
Fear of the unknown
Technophobia is not a new phenomenon. It has been around ever since the advent of technological revolutions, starting with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century all the way to the Digital Age. Even back then, many people feared that they would one day lose control and eventually find themselves at the mercy of machines. Those anxieties can be equated with modern-day fears of artificial intelligence and vindictive robots. However, paranoia is not the only thing that causes people to repudiate modern technology.
There are other concerns, some of which are valid and should be taken seriously. One of them is online fraud, which is often targeted at seniors who are less versed in this field. Identity theft, computer viruses and online scams are all real and existing threats that need to be addressed. However, we are not without defence. The first vital step is to learn how to protect ourselves from those threats and look into software security. If you check out the Website Security section of the link, you might see a familiar name like Norton providing protection for phones and laptops against malware, viruses, and hacking. Things like this should be taken advantage of, as especially for a new internet user, knowing what you’re up against in terms of attackers is imperative, but shouldn’t deter you from making use of the World Wide Web.
To conclude, I would invite you to ponder the following scenario for a second: Imagine someone that, for whatever reason, has completely missed out on the incremental technological changes that have taken place over the last thirty-so years. Think about how that person would perceive all the changes that digitization has brought to our everyday life. It has impacted nearly every area, from the way we work to how we communicate to our way of accessing and processing information.
These are truly massive changes, however, there is no indication that digitalization won’t continue to keep altering our lives. It is therefore time to stop allowing technophobia to stand in the way and instead, start taking part.