Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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computers, internet and social networking

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computers, internet and social networking

Reinventing old age? Some MIT tech assertions are simplistic

MIT Technology Review’s "Old Age is Over" is thought provoking.  Or in the case of the technology section – "Old Age is Made Up," written by Joe Coughlin, head of the MIT Age Lab, the content is just plain provoking. We agree that old age is made up – but in this article, that assertion is underpinned with generalizations that are just, well, also made up. And it shows a lack of understanding about who benefits from technologies that exist in their current form, or that some of those have been upgraded well beyond his generalizations.  Consider:

Older adults and screen time – what’s it mean?

Pew’s latest examined screen time for older adults.  The highlight of this document published in June – from age 60 to 80 and beyond, older adults spend more time on their screens (watching TV or videos) than on anything else other than sleep. And that includes time spent working. And one other interesting tidbit – 40% of those in their 60s are still working, which of course includes the un-retired. But 14% of people in their 70s are still working, according to Pew, along with 4% of people in their 80s. The report also notes that 73% of the 65+ are Internet users, and 53% are smartphone users.  As with the younger population, reading and socializing time has ticked down.

Tech adoption grows for older adults -- why?

In 2019, Tech adoption changes -- some.  It’s known as the Amazon effect. As brick-and-mortar based businesses dwindle in favor of online, access to smartphone and broadband are becoming the enablers of information flow to older adults.  Pew Research helps us understand who, what, and possibly why people buy and own technology. Non-users, particularly broadband, are thus on one side of the so-called digital divide.  The latest Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report reveals a change in the role of smartphones, particularly as a sole device for connecting to the Internet – 37% of responders to this year’s survey go online primarily using a smartphone, with 58% of 18-29-year-olds saying they mostly go online that way, though that number dropped to 15% for the 65+.   

Technology non-adoption of the oldest – it’s a bug, not a feature

Not adopting tech -- it's not okay. Lacking access to smartphones, Internet, in-home broadband/WiFi cuts oldest out of access to modern telehealth, communication and engagement, in-home sensors, outside-home GPS, fall detection, and device integration with smartphones. The issue of non-adoption, particularly as more health services move online, will become increasingly vexing for service providers of all types. Surveying of the oldest has fallen out of favor, though Link-ageConnect persists, thankfully -- see their 2019 report. But over the years much has been opined about the reasons – so here is some more opining. Rant on.

Technology Tool Tarnish – Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn

Facebook is the company we increasingly love to hate – but boomers still ‘like’ it. So much negative press, well deserved, about Facebook lately, including the lawsuit about knowingly duping children playing games. Then there was the Pew Research estimated number of deleted accounts (mostly young people) and no small deal, a big security breach.  Clearly this is a company with management issues – and someday will either fail (unlikely), be broken up, or be regulated, even in the US, which has for some unknown reason done nothing to date, unlike privacy actions taken in Europe.   According to eMarketer, though, baby boomers are still big users – of the 76.4 million of them, 31.9 million are using Facebook. Hopefully not trying to stay connected to teens – who are departing for other platforms like Snapchat, according to eMarketer, including Snapchat. On the positive side, Snapchat is not yet owned by Facebook – which will be combining Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp into a single platform by 2020.

Real Seniors lack essential technology – Consider an Older Americans Technology Act in 2019

When Pew stops tracking senior adoption, does that imply a market saturated?  Note this Fact Tank aggregation of technology adoption statistics (tech overall among seniors, last reported in 2016) – and the most recent data cited on Internet use, seniors were quoted in a 2016 survey, 44% of responders did not use the internet. Of those that do, older adults aged 65+ said they had little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks.  Let’s think about their non-confidence (not broken down into the 65-74) and the 75+ who are the Real Seniors

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