Baby Boomers actively seek technology to realize the digital lifestyle

Posted by Bonnie Kearney
Director of Marketing, Trustworthy Computing
Baby Boomers—the 78 million Americans born in the wake of World War II (1946-1964)—have been called the most influential generation in history, and are recognized historically as trendsetters who have actively reshaped society at every stage of their lives.  
Nearly a decade ago—about the time the youngest Boomers were turning 40 and the oldest Boomers were hitting their late-50s—it became increasingly clear that technology could greatly benefit Baby Boomers who were beginning to grapple with aging issues such as reduced vision and dexterity. Technology also offered solutions that would empower Boomers to help their parents get the care they need, yet remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible.
Boomers actually spend more money on technology than any other age group, and their use of technology is expanding as they grow older. A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that nearly half (47 percent) of Internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26 percent) of users age 65 and older now use social networking sites. In addition, a June 2010 survey commissioned by AARP, 40 percent of adults age 50 and over consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet. Whether they are using technology and the Internet for online banking and bill-paying, communicating with friends and family, or monitoring their health and fitness, Boomers everywhere are living the digital lifestyle. 
Microsoft’s mission of enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential extends to everyone, regardless of their age or ability, and that mission is evident in our collaboration with AARP. In May 2009, AARP and Microsoft sponsored a series of focus group-like discussions with Baby Boomers in four U.S. cities: San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago and New York. Author and futurist Michael Rogers led the sessions as the Baby Boomers shared their technology experiences, insights and expectations—and how their personal values shape the way they choose and use technology.
The result is “Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation”, a report that offers fresh insights into a generation whose influence on technology is often overlooked, and creates a compelling picture of how boomers and other consumers will use technology in the near future. It’s clear from those conversations that Boomers want technology in their lives, but only if it is useful and intuitive, as a helper rather than a master. Having grown up with computing technology, aging Boomers are now actively using it to stay healthy, stay connected, care for their loved ones, and lead better lives.
Last month, the Discovery Channel aired a program called Future Family: Life in the Digital Age sponsored by AARP. The program showed Baby Boomers and their loved ones adopting innovative, easy-to-use technologies such as Microsoft HealthVault and Kinect as part of a digital lifestyle. It encouraged Boomers to use technology to stay connected anytime and anywhere, work remotely, care for aging parents, and remain healthy and active —all with the help of technology ranging from pedometers and heart-rate monitors to videos and gaming. 
The Discovery Channel is re-running the program again on November 27 at 8 a.m. EST, and it’s up on their web site. I encourage you to check it out.  If you’re like me, you may just learn a new technology trick or two from the show’s tech-savvy Boomers.

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