Innovation and teaching our elders


When searching for a blog, I stumbled upon an “innovation and technology” blog of a Bucknell alumand former teammate of mine.  AJ Pompliano is an entrepreneur and recently sold his first company. He tends to blog about startups and technology, but one of his recent posts stood out to me.

He discussed an experience he had while training two older men to use Twitter. Both men were fascinated with innovation and technology, but were clueless when it came to using technological tools like social media. The didn’t even know how to send a text or email from the cell phone.

Aj brought up an interesting point: “I wish we could empower more people in our oldest generations. As a country we spend so much time thinking about our children (I am guilty as well) that we forget about our elders. I need to spend more time focused on educating them as well. They deserve the benefits of innovation just as much as the rest of us!”

As a generation, we take for granted our understanding for the technology we grew up with. Recent innovations within our society have become so useful that they work into our daily routine, basically evolving into necessities. It’s tough to imagine a world without technology, but that’s what some of our older citizens are used to. Many lack the desire for technological knowledge because they can’t even contemplate what they are missing out on. I believe we should have a social responsibility to share our knowledge with out elders, and to enlighten them despite some stubbornness. As can be seen by Pompliano’s blog post, many older citizens do indeed possess a desire to learn!

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9 thoughts on “Innovation and teaching our elders

  1. Some people are very interested in technology and others aren’t. When it comes to elders, the ones that are interested will in fact get involved. For example, my friend’s grandma has a facebook and an iphone and is obsessed. She went about that completely on her own. On the other hand, my grandma has a computer (which was a hand-me-down from our family) and can barely turn it on. We try and try again to teach her how to use it, but she doesn’t really care. She has no desire to figure it all out. I think it is important to note that the older generation who wants to embrace technology will do so (and we can help them), but it is a waste of time trying to force feed it to those who are completely tuned out.

  2. This is a topic I honestly have never given that much thought to. I agree with Alli’s comment, in that the actual desire among the elderly to immerse themselves in technology is limited. We spend so much time perfecting every piece of technology to “better” our lives, whereas many of the elderly do not think that many of these things will enhance their lives. My friend showed me this twitter account where a man told his elderly father that twitter was how to google things, so this old man tweets the things he meant to google…it’s an interesting look into the thought process of the elderly interacting with technology (assuming its real).

  3. After looking at the Twitter account Jenna posted, I found it very ironic that some of the “google searches” where questions about how to use technology. I think a lot of the time we take advantage of the fact that we grew up with technology and just assume that everyone else knows and understands how to use it. Many elderly people may not want to use technology because they believe it possesses no benefit, but that thought could stem from their lack of knowledge. Instead of trying to teach elderly people to use technology, maybe we should focus on educating them about to benefits it has.

  4. Its interesting how technology has progressed through our lives. For most of our lives, we have grown up with computers, the internet, and cell phones. Thinking about growing up in our parents era is hard to picture. For our generation, going a week without a cell phone is quite difficult.

    The blog mentions that technology doesn’t discriminate against any age, gender, or race, but I think that most elderly people are frightened of technology. I personally feel like Im getting to the point where I see new technology emerge and feel that same fright. The amount of information about our live available on the internet is particularly frightening, and it almost feels like nothing is private anymore. I wonder what technology will be around when we are in our 60’s that will be so advanced we will need people in their 20’s to teach it to us.

  5. I don’t think “elderly” people are frightened by technology, they have different values in their lives and realize that if they have grown up happy and enjoy interacting, then why add yet another thing such as technology to even further the themselves from reality. I would give anything to live in the late 70s, early 80s, where the all I had was a Springsteen 8-track and I would have to make plans to hang out with my friends during school instead of now where information is everywhere and we are expected to spend hours on a computer trying to capture all this knowledge.

  6. I do think it’s a good idea to make efforts to educate the elderly population on how to use technology. I think that it’s almost unfair that we grew up with technology and they did not, because as a result they are often clueless about such an integral part of younger people’s lives. I think that there’s a way to balance the “duty” to teach technology and Alli’s point that some may not want to learn. Older people who have a desire to learn about technology but are too proud to ask (older, wiser…) for help should have a means to help. Maybe specific workshops could be given to our older populations in order to keep them in the know.

  7. Austin, your post seems to have provoked a lot of discussion about older generations and their use of technology. I agree with Heather’s point about how it is almost unfair that we grew up being so familiar with technology. Little things that come so naturally to us are often completely foreign to people older than us. I experienced this in a summer internship, during which I was often asked to solve tasks that I felt were simple and obvious, like how to perform a specific task in Word. Every time I didn’t know the answer, I googled it and could figure it out in about 3 minutes. My boss and her assistant thought this was incredible, while I felt like it was what everyone would do in my situation. Even though neither of them were that old, they still didn’t have the comfort and dependency on technology that I did, which could be viewed as positive or negative.

  8. Mary, love your comment. Sometimes I wonder if our elders have it better off, living a life not dominated by a reliance on technology. And Valerie, interesting you mentioned that workshops should be given.

    Want to know of a market that barely anyone is thinking about right now? I was just talking to someone about this today…Old People. Baby boomers are retiring just as fast as they came out of their mothers’ wombs; estimated 10,000 a day for the next 20 or so years.

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