TTNers and Technology
November 2, 2017
TTNers and Technology
By Betty Rauch TTN member Since 11 years
TTN no longer sends regular “snail mail.” Almost all communication from, information about and sign-up for activities, is handled by email and website. So it seemed appropriate to examine the technological sophistication of TTN-NYC members.
In addition, as our world changes, seniors’ tech savvy has become an important issue. As Shawndra Card-Grant, TTN’s administrative assistant, noted “Tech is great for those over 50. It opens up a new world.” Technology can assist seniors to stay connected, aware of what is going on, involved and engaged. In fact, technology adoption by seniors is so important that the Pew Research Center has looked at the issue multiple times, the last in 2017:
Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults
by Monica Anderson & Andrew Perrin
Although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, [they are] more digitally connected than ever. In fact, some groups of seniors – such as those who are younger, more affluent and more highly educated – report owning and using various technologies at rates similar to adults under the age of 65.
…Internet adoption among seniors has risen steadily over the last decade and a half. When the Center began tracking internet adoption in early 2000, just 14% of seniors were internet users. But today, 67% of adults ages 65 and older say they go online.
Still, there remains a notable digital divide between younger and older Americans. Many seniors who are older, less affluent or with lower levels of educational attainment continue to have a distant relationship with digital technology.
Younger seniors (defined by Pew as those 65 – 69) use the internet and subscribe to home broadband at rates that are comparable to the overall population. Fully 82% of 65- to 69-year-olds are internet users, and two-thirds say they have broadband internet connections at home.
The Pew research mirrors what both Shawndra and Victoria Weill-Hagai, our TTNer who helps Shawndra with the website and other tech issues, have learned about our members: We’re a pretty tech savvy group. That’s because, as the Pew research demonstrated, technological comfort reflects both income and education levels, and is greater for “younger” seniors – like most of us.
Shawndra divides TTN members into a “tech savvy” group, at about 60%, and the “tech lites” at about 40%. She finds that the “tech lite” users are wary about clicking to find solutions; fearful that they will mess up something or get hacked. “Every single day,” said Shawndra, “I get at least one call from a member who needs help with some aspect of managing her on-line activities.”
Victoria noted that most TTNers are managing to deal well with the weekly e-blasts and most (not all) have figured out how to go to the TTN website to sign up for events. But far fewer are using the website to discover the full richness of what TTN has to offer. “The web is dynamic and changing, with new information added frequently. Ours may not be the easiest site to navigate, but it is regrettable that so few members use the Talent Pool or Business Card sections or explore the offerings and information from other Chapters.”
In a fascinating aside, Victoria noted that many of our members were in managerial positions by the time technology took over the business world. Now, because they are members of a volunteer organization, they are being asked to do for themselves what their secretaries or assistants used to do for them. That learning curve can be steep!
SOLUTIONS and ADVICE:If you are “tech lite,” these suggestions from Shawndra and Vic, our pros, will help.
1) Ask Google questions, e.g. “How do I ….? Click on “video” when you get the answer, because often you will find terrific demonstrations to solve your query.
2) Most programs have a “help” function. Find it and ask your questions. In Microsoft Word, the help function is a tiny " ? " in a blue circle, upper right.
3) Don’t be scared to click around, explore, push buttons.
4) Do your housekeeping: Clear your cookies. Update your browser. (How? Try asking Google!)
5) Extra credit help:
- Phone calls from Microsoft or other tech companies telling you there is something wrong with your computer are a SCAM. Real tech companies do not call. Hang up!
- Change your passwords often. Definitely do not use the same one for everything.
- Google yourself. See what information about you is available – THEN, make sure that none of your passwords contain any of that information, even backwards!
- Sign up for Facebook – it is rapidly becoming the way “seniors” stay connected with friends and family. And TTN National, TTN-NYC and some SIGs have their own Facebook pages with lots of really good information.
Betty Rauch is a marketing and communications professional with broad experience in non- and for-profit sectors. Since 1993 she has had a consulting practice focused on marketing, re-positioning, branding, and Internet strategies. Her experience with TTN started in 2010 when she and Mimi Grinker were hired to provide marketing consultation. That engagement completed, they volunteered in 2011 to establish TTN’s Marketing Committee. The rest is TTN history!