Tecnhology Gap in the Generations – Why?
We all know that children can become technologically savy with much less effort than their grandparents. And, their parents—folks in their 40s and 50s—while efficient, do not possess the quick mastery of the very young.
Why, I wonder, is it so difficult for people in their “mature years”—age 70 and up—to learn stuff that seems to come so easily to younger generations. It is quite frustrating for us when we need hours, days, sometimes weeks to learn what any school child can master in minutes. As I’ve said in previous posts, we grandparents have had to throw our pride on the floor and step over it, asking our grandchildren for advice and assistance—much to the amusement, no doubt, of the youngsters.
Recently, my husband sent a message to one of our college student grandsons asking for advice in choosing a particular gadget. The response was immediate. I suspect that it is a good feeling to counsel one’s grandparents. This sort of thing didn’t seem to happen years ago. One didn’t advise one’s grandparents on anything because we hadn’t lived long enough to gather that much wisdom.
However, daily life in the mainstream for senior citizens requires at least the basic tools of a computer and a cell phone. Many of our friends choose the simplest brand and service of cell phones and many of us do not text, much to the chagrin of kids who want to “no how u r.” Immediately if not sooner.
Computers: Most of us older citizens use computers to one extent or another, whether it is shopping online, ordering plane tickets, balancing our checkbooks, or paying bills online. Some of us have Face Book accounts for social contacts and some of us have business accounts or use Face Book to network with other professionals in their field. Blogs, websites, and other social media are where we need to push ourselves hard. Many times I find my self way out of my comfort zone, like the day I created a Gravator for my word press blog. That was also the day I wrote a blog post about modern language that twists and reinvents words and meanings. My old Webster dictionary does not include the word Gravator so I content myself with the knowledge that I have one.
So why all this agony in my generation? We are not stupid. We’ve managed to put ourselves through school, succeed in business, raise families, build businesses, leave legacies. We can quote the dates, locations, and outcome of at least three major Civil War battles and most of the World War II events abroad and at home. So why does it take all afternoon to do something as simple as create a Gravator? And why could I not do it again if I were paid because I stumbled upon the correct procedure quite by accident.
It has to be that children are still blank slates relatively speaking when it comes to acquiring and using knowledge. Their brains have plenty of room left for storage, sort of like the attic of a house you’ve just moved into. Also, their mental and physical muscles are resilient and strong. Ours are stiff and weak. Well, maybe not the mental muscles. But our brains have been accumulating knowledge and habits for 70 years or more, much of it imprinted while we were still impressionable and without strong opinions.
The same ingredients that make it easier for children than older adults to learn a foreign language are the ones that slow us down in our acquisition of skills required to take digital pictures with a cell phone, press a button and send the pictures to Face Book or to someone’s email address within seconds.
It is quite vexing for my husband and I to need so much time to stay caught up in the world while time seems to be spinning out of control. I recently learned how to download books from Amazon on my Kindle while my husband was learning how to borrow ebooks from the library. What keeps us going in this truncated march to success in managing life in the 21st century is the desire to keep learning because for many of us life is—as exciting as opening a box of chocolates—as Forest Gump once observed: You never know what’s inside.
So curiosity, which may have killed a cat (an old day saying) is what keeps us going. That and a desire to communicate with our grandchildren.