So…..Are you too old to learn how to use the Internet? Yes or No?

Are you too old to learn how to use the Internet?

Let’s start with some facts and myth-busting, shall we?

Fact: 41% of adults ages 65 and older do not use the internet, compared with only 1% of 18-29-year-olds. That still means that over half the entire American population 65 and over are online (Source: 2016 Pew Research Center study).

Myth: Boomers are too old to learn how to use the Internet. 32% of non-internet users said the internet was too difficult to use, 8% stating they were “too old to learn.” What’s true here is the mindset, not the reality. Debra Dunn, former senior excutive at Hewlett-Packard for 22 years, finds that older people’s perceptions of their own ability to contribute become powerful predictors of what they can and cannot achieve.

“What you think, you become,” she quotes Buddha.

Fact: Internet use by people aged 65 and older grew 150% between 2009 and 2011, and is still growing significantly and steadily.

71% are on the internet daily (Source: 2016 Pew Research Center study); the biggest growth has been in social media use by women 55+.

Myth: There’s an age limit on learning new things because the brain declines with age.

NOT! Young people may get to an answer more quickly, but older people’s brains actually improve with age (like a fine wine, right?). Over time their brains have (neurologically) developed qualities like:

  • Empathy, which give better big-picture perspective and emotional understanding
  • Complex reasoning skills, to better synthesize facts for new insights and good decisions
  • Experiences from life, from which they can make connections that lead to creative ideas and sensible outcomes
  • Mindfulness, bringing wisdom to create innovations and ideas that have meaning

Lisa Barone, writing for Outspokenmedia.com, titles her rant: “You’re not too old for social media, you’re just lazy.” What? Well, that little 29-year-old upstart! OK, I have to admit, she may have a point. She’s talking to those ‘older’ people she knows who dismiss social media: We didn’t have it back then. We actually spoke to people. Or: Social media is a ‘kid’s thing.’ Lisa challenges this mindset to realize that “the way you market a business has changed. There are new tools to help you do what you’ve always done, but better.”

Great point, young padawan.

What older brains can also do is get stuck in older ideas, thinking inside the box too often. The good news? This is a choice, not a neurological construct! So, do you feel like you’re too old to learn new technology?

InternetKathy Stover, Social Media Strategist, Business Visionary, Affiliate Marketer, and Online Product Creator, asserts enthusiastically: “You’re never too old!” (She cites her own 85-year-old mother as just one example, and my own 81 -year-old mom is another one). Kathy was a guest on my Little White Lie show (See the replay here to get all the goodies from our interview!), sharing her expert insights from almost 30 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience in online marketing.

Kathy says that capability isn’t the problem for her clients ‘of a certain age,’ rather, “there is a fear connected with tech because they’re afraid they might hit the wrong button, say the wrong thing, or end up in the wrong space.” There is also a fear around exposing themselves on the Internet – it’s like taking a step in the sand and seeing your footprint there – except the ocean tide doesn’t wash the footprint away. Your “digital footprint” is out there forever! Which can be a good thing, of course, if you do it right.

How does she help her clients cross that line of fear and lack of confidence around tech?

Kathy impresses on them that what’s important is to communicate, to share their unique point of view. She tells them, it’s OK; in fact, it’s kind of freeing and exciting when you put yourself out there so you can share. Start by taking small steps.

By supporting them in the tech area, which is what I do for clients in my business as well, we can help people feel confident that they’re ‘doing it right,’ that they won’t break their computer, and that they can learn how to use the Internet correctly and safely — to help them successfully promote their business or cause!.

What about the people who tell us we absolutely need to be on every single social media platform?

That feels overwhelming enough to stop someone from starting! For the typical businessperson, Kathy advises, it’s good to be on several social media platforms because they feed each other, but probably not all of them. Your choice is based on the nature of your business, to be on specific platforms that fit what industry or business that you’re in.

An issue raised by one of our listeners during the live show was: What about the fact that social media, apps, etc. change so fast? What do we do about that? Is there a best practice for keeping on top of all of it?

InternetKathy’s answer: “I wish there was!”

But here are some suggestions:
1. Google Alerts can be helpful. You key it down to specific words that connect with whatever platform you’re interested in. You then get alerts on that platform so you can keep current on it.
2. Connecting into Facebook groups that involve tech and social media marketing. Tap into those groups and get a lot of really useful information, or ask questions.
3. Keying in to specific individuals so you know who to ask to find out current information; or to the pros whose job it is to keep current.

Kathy leaves us with these inspiring thoughts:

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and share yourself online. Start now to create those relationships. No matter your age or where you are in your life, there may be a point in time when the creativity in you comes out and you want to share your passions, your dreams, your vision. Put yourself out there now, make your way, create a path. In that way when you’re ready to step out in a big way maybe to start that online business, or do something else with your life, you’re going to be set!”

The Little White Lie is a global movement that explores topics related to embracing your age, your authentic self, loving the skin you’re in unapologetically. It is a continuing conversation in our community. So, what do you think? Are you too old to learn new technology?

Get into the conversation and take part in the direction of TLWL movement! Here’s how:

1) Answer the question in the comments below.
2) Take my survey on www.TheLittleWhiteLie.com where you see the question: “What is your biggest concern about aging?”
3) Share your thoughts on Facebook (or your favorite social media platforms) and use the hashtag #LittleWhiteLie.

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Caren Glasser is the author of 4 books, and the host of The Passion Point, a WebTV show. She can also be seen on Bravo's Below Deck Mediterranean. Today, as the CEO of Spark It Network, she focuses on helping businesses create digital assets so that they can get found online

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Myra Barr Reply

Hi Cantor, I was going to say that I like the new you, but that is ridiculous because this is the REAL you!. When I read your topic today, I burst out laughing because a friend of mine,
( from Temple Isaiah) and someone you may remember Pearl White is 100+ and is on email and Facebook and shops on line regularly ! She is amazing and my hero! So if anyone asks that again just tell them about Pearl!!
Shabbat shalom!

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