Changes in How Senior Citizens Use Computers

Changes in How Senior Citizens Use Computers


People over 65 are now the fastest growing
demographic in the United States. In our recent research, with people ages 65
and older, we noticed some changes in how this group uses technology. Here are some of the surprising changes that
we found. We’re seeing a change in how early and how
often seniors adopt technology. Many designers think that people over 65 have
no interest in technology and new gadgets. Our research showed that that’s just not true
anymore. Nielsen Norman Group has been studying how
seniors use technology for nearly 20 years. And over that time, we’ve seen rates of tech
adoption climb. In our latest study, we saw that many seniors
were excited to embrace technology that was helpful to them. In our study, many seniors were interested
in finding new apps to download when those apps helped them accomplish day-to-day tasks
or enjoy their favorite hobbies. We also saw changes in trust, and we noticed
rising concerns about security. There’s a common stereotype among younger
designers that seniors are too trusting and often fall for scams. Why it’s sadly true that seniors are often
victims of fraud, a recent Federal Trade Commission report found that millennials were actually
more likely to report that they lost money to a scam than people ages 70 and up. Seniors are growing more savvy about privacy
and data use online. Some seniors in our study took measures to
protect themselves online. They did things like turning off location
tracking in their smart phones. They also took steps like opting out of data
collecting apps. Some seniors used VPNs on their own computer. We noticed a change in the reason why seniors
came online. There’s a persistent stereotype that people
over age 65 only began using computers after one of their kids or grandkids brought one
home for them. Our research showed that that’s not true anymore. Many of our study participants used computers
for work during their professional careers. Some study participants were introduced to
the online world by friends and family, but they were outnumbered by seniors who came
online for work. Building better experiences begins with understanding
who you are designing for. The group of people who are now in the over
65 demographic is very different than the picture that most designers have in their
head when they think of the phrase “senior citizens.” Keep these shifts in mind when designing for
older users.

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