The recent technological boom brings some interesting questions to the table. Not only does it have the potential to help us live longer, better, and more accessible lives, but it also changes at such a fast rate it’s easy to feel ‘old’ in digital space long before our body agrees with that!
There’s always been a young-leaning bias in adopting and embracing digital technologies, and that gap can widen the faster our digital evolution accelerates. Even marketers have noted the trend, carefully selecting the social media platforms they market on based on the demographics they love to embrace. From the tech we use to where we use it, age and the digital environment are becoming interestingly entwined- so should we now distinguish our ‘technological age’ from our real-world one? Let’s take a look!
How Old are You in the Tech World?
Have you ever wondered how old you are in the tech sense? Luckily, ExpressVPN created a fun quiz on the tech age you can use to check how old you truly are in cyberspace.
While talking about your technological age is just a bit of fun at the end of the day, the real-world benchmarks that power it is pretty complex. For example, did you know that emergent social media platforms tend to lean young, with their adoption slowly filtering through the age groups until a platform becomes about ‘old’ people?
We saw this with the rise of Facebook, which was first solely the playground of college-age people. This was partly led by its invention for the college market and because it was a brand new and ‘scary’ technology. Additionally, older people found it facile and silly, preferring to lean into traditional methods of socializing. However, it slowly became ubiquitous, and people of all ages adopted it. Surprisingly, Facebook has one of the oldest-leaning age demographics and has lost its sparkle for the youth market, as has Twitter. The youth decamped for new platforms like TikTok instead. But what do you know? We’re slowly seeing increasingly older people rear their heads on TikTok. No doubt, the next generation of youth will be rolling their eyes at the ‘old people’ on TikTok in the next few years, clinging to the latest, greatest social phenomenon instead.
Of course, this isn’t just a digital trend. The youth have been embracing changed cultural phenomenon, and then those older than them are slowly getting used to it, for generations. It just happens digitally now.
Embracing New Technological Hardware
We see the same pattern play out when it comes to new devices. After all, we’re sure you’ve seen the joke about how the youngest person in the office is the IT helpdesk, whether or not that’s their official job role, right?
While the youth of the day have never really wanted to socialize where older generations do- and they love to find some new, trendy way that they’re not like their parents, or, (gasp) grandparents- why do the youth tend to adapt to technological changes of the day better than the rest of us?
There’s some solid science in this area. It seems that the type of technology we’re raised with tends to become our generation ‘norm’. Because it happens while we’re young and still developing our brains, we adapt easier to its shifting needs. Once we ‘settle down’ and stop engaging in both trends and learning so actively, we tend to become a little resistant to learning new things.
We are harried parents with babies to feed, after all. Or active career-chasers more focused on upping our paycheque than learning new gadgets. Someone has to buy those gadgets for our kids, right? If we don’t proactively engage in interaction with new technology, it can quickly pass us by- and then we tend to get stubborn in turn. Why can’t what was good enough for us be good enough for ‘the youth’? This becomes especially dicey when new tech developments are tied to the youth market, too, as it becomes all too easy to write it off as silly and facile- just as our grandparents once did for us! While it’s true that younger demographics have more time to spend on ‘fun’ things then those weighed down by responsibility and immediate needs to meet, there’s a strong argument for staying nimble and forward-looking in your tech usage.
The Perception Gap
Let’s be honest- the youth tend to remain more engaged with changing threats and taking risks online. This is why we see trends like older Facebook users being more gullible about fake news, while younger users tend to be a bit more critical. Because we don’t actively grow up onboarding and assessing these risks from childhood, we become less aware of them.
Unlike many of the other aspects we’ve covered, this can be a dangerous one. After all, the elderly are some of the most likely to fall for new-tech scams like phishing. So while considering your ‘technological age’ can seem like a bit of fun, it can also be a wakeup call for adaptability and versatility. The more we let changing technology escape from us and stay in our comfort zone, the more we risk being ‘left behind’. And we don’t just mean on what’s trendy and new- but also what’s safe, what is best practice, and how to best take advantage of the changing digital world around us. No one wants to be a dinosaur before their time, but many of us are guilty of doing exactly that to ourselves! If we don’t stay current and up-to-date on the technological landscape, we put ourselves at greater risk of new scams and problems and miss out on opportunities. If you’re not willing to embrace new job roles, changed learning environments, and new skill sets, you can miss out on career chances and render yourself obsolete, or fail to find new environments for socializing and fun.
So while talking about your technological age may be a bit of fun, it might also be a good opportunity to check-in with ourselves and assess where we are comfortable with technology. Learning doesn’t just have to be just for young people- it should be a lifelong experience that keeps our brains strong and our pocketbooks safe!