A study by the Pew Research Center found that technology use among Americans 65 and over has grown in recent years:
- Smartphone ownership climbed from 18% in 2013 to 42% in 2017.
- Internet usage with broadband technology rose from 14% in 2000 to over 65% in 2017
- Tablets were owned by 18% in 2013, but this increased to 32% in 2017
The same study asked for reaction to the statement, "When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it." Of the total respondents:
- 48% said the statement described them "Very Well,"
- 25% said it described them "Somewhat Well."
Those responses would be no surprise to younger, more tech-savvy family members. It's common today for older adults to call upon the under 65 generations to help troubleshoot "computer" problems. Older adults often were introduced to computers, smartphones, and other devices later in life. Lacking lifelong experience with such technology, some seniors find these innovations baffling.
With the onslaught of COVID-19, the situation for technology-challenged seniors worsened for two reasons. First, demand skyrocketed for high-tech products and services. Most senior living facilities severely curtailed visitors to protect their vulnerable populations. As a result, many seniors turned to technology to stay in touch with family and friends, shop, find entertainment, or keep up with current events.
Second, the ability of relatives or friends to provide in-person technical support evaporated due to visiting restrictions. Facility staff members rarely can help since they must prioritize essential direct care work and are not trained to troubleshoot technical problems. As a result, older users of technology become frustrated by even the most fundamental glitches.
One option for coping with this dilemma may be to enlist the help of an information technology (IT) support company. These range from large organizations like Best Buy's Geek Squad to smaller, local companies. One such company is Premier IT, headquartered in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Premier IT offers information technology support services to businesses and individuals. In a conversation with Premier IT President Alan Altepeter, he described how an IT support company can help senior technology users.