Yesterday, I spoke to a group of retirees (the average age was probably 80) in Palm Springs about digital media. These were definitely digital immigrants although of course many of them had grandchildren and even great grandchildren who were digital natives. So, were they skeptical about the technology and unaware of what it was?
Well, my informal poll backed up recent research that says the over 50 crowd is becoming more and more Internet savvy. I was actually very surprised at how media literate this group was! Everyone in the group used email, at least half were on Facebook, all had mobile phones, and nearly all accessed the Internet every day. One parent told how his son who had cancer had created a blog that reached people around world. This drew him in and he found the site provided him with social support as well. Retired teachers in the group talked about their observations of their grandchildren learning through the use of computers and video games. Of course, some of the attendees were not so positive and didn’t like how the technology created intergenerational boundaries that were not easily broken. But as one grandma said “I told my grandchild NO MORE mobile phone while you are with me.” She said she felt her granddaughter was secretly relieved to be able to turn off the constant connection to her friends. The digital immigrant taught the digital native how to have face to face communication with the one you are with! Now that is productive intergenerational dialogue!