The Real Reason Baby Boomers Hesitate with Technology

The Real Reason Baby Boomers Hesitate with Technology
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Do you ever have a moment of panic or confusion when using your phone and something doesn't look the way it should? Maybe you have the most recent iPhone or iPad and you just haven't gotten around to setting up cloud--heck you may not even be convinced you need to use the cloud.

If you're in your 50's or 60's, you know--born in the baby boomer generation, that confused look may be getting picked up by younger generations. They roll their eyes at some of our questions or make snarky comments about our lack of tech-savviness. Every time I witness it, I get a little sad inside.

Because our struggles with technology aren't entirely our fault.

By today's standards, new technology was introduced at a slow pace during the 70's, 80's and 90's. That was the period in our lives when baby boomers were in school, establishing our careers and raising families. We got to choose if and when we wanted to adapt to new things--and new things were introduced gradually.

Think about how we made phone calls.

- In 1970, the main phone in our house was still a rotary dial phone. Our family didn't get a push button phone until the late 1970's.
- During that time we relied on the answering machine with a micro-cassette. You know the one where the tape would get tangled and you weren't able to hear your messages.
- Caller id arrived sometime in the 1980's which was another big revolution--you could finally see who was calling. More importantly, you could finally screen your calls, choosing to let the call go to voicemail.
- In the late 1980's we literally cut the cord with cordless phones, which allowed us to roam freely around the house. No more being tethered to the wall phone.

Calling when away from home was even more difficult.

- In the 1970's and 1980's some of us relied on pagers, which would beep and show you the number of someone trying to get ahold of you. To respond you'd have to find a pay phone--which are scarce today.
- In the mid-1970's the first 'mobile' phones were introduced and they were huge. Not everyone could afford one, but I remember a successful realtor that had a 'mobile' phone. You know you were succussful when you had your 'mobile' number printed on your business card.
- It wasn't until the mid-1980's that I got my first mobile phone. It was pretty big by today's standards and looked a lot like that cordless phone. You couldn't get the phone in your pocket, so we'd put them on a belt clip--showing them off for the world to see.

Does this resonate with you? Those advancements spanned 30 years.

In the past 15 years, personal technology has advanced at a rapid pace. In early 2000, after the Y2K bug proved to be a dud, I got my first work-issued blackberry. I remember being able to get email on your phone. It was liberating and addicting--I was a crack berry addict.

When my Nokia flip phone contract expired in mid-2007, I found myself at the Verizon store, picking out my first iPhone. As you know, it was revolutionary device with touch screen, apps, music, calendar all on your phone. I was so happy the Verizon store was able to copy my Blackberry contacts to my new iPhone that I left the store confident I could set up my email on my own.

But where was the manual?

The only thing in the iPhone box was a little piece of paper, folded in 4's. How were we supposed to figure out this stuff? Were we really expected to operate this pocket sized computer with no manual?

Aside from figuring out how to master the basic functions of the iPhone, we also had to learn how to use apps that were being developed at a fast and furious pace--to the point where there are 1.5 million apps today.

For many people, that's when confusion set in. Sure, it was easy to download apps, especially free ones, and play around with solitaire or poker. But there were bigger questions you'd ask yourself like, "When should I use wi-fi?", "Why don't I have enough storage?", or "How do I get photos off my phone?".

With no manual, we would resort to finding the answer online, but usually to no avail.

That's why I created Boomer Web School. Think of me as your "missing manual". I'll help you troubleshoot problems and explore technology--making it fun and interesting along the way.

Are you ready to dive in without hesitation?

To get started, sign up for my weekly update. I'll send you useful, relevant information from the unique perspective of baby boomers.

Popular in the Community