Technology

Boomers at CES Prove Technology Is Not Just for The Young

By / Jan 12, 2015 (David Becker/Getty Images)

AARP Nevada sent a group of members to the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow last week to check out whether some of the latest tech gadgets meet the needs of those over 50.

As crowds gathered in Las Vegas last week for the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, one organization wanted to dispel the myth that its members are not comfortable with technology.

AARP Nevada sent 50 tech-savvy seniors wearing “#DisruptAging” shirts to the Lifelong Tech Pavilion to check out the gadgets on display. Their task? To determine whether the presented technologies and their inventors were hitting or missing the mark on what people 50 and older are looking for.  Some of the members shared their observations during a panel discussion.

“AARP is committed to showing the tech industry that people over 50+ make up a powerful longevity economy, representing 106 million people responsible for at least $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity, a group that successful businesses won’t want to ignore,” AARP Senior Vice President Jody Holtzman said in a statement.

For example, while a lot of attendees were wowed by a robotic dinosaur toy on display, AARP member Mary Ellen Burton was less impressed, noticing a potential design flaw. “I have an 11-year-old grandson,” she told a local TV news channel. “And I can tell you in about 10 minutes it would break, because it was plastic in the front.”

Deploying boomers to CES is part of a larger initiative at AARP to help ensure that people over 50 can take advantage of technology’s benefits.

A 2013 study from Pew Research Center found that while nearly 20 percent of Americans 65 and older own a smartphone and/or tablet and roughly 60 percent use the internet—daily for most of that group—older Americans still lag behind younger generations when it comes to tech adoption. The study found several unique challenges for this age group when adopting new technology, including physical challenges, skepticism regarding the benefits, and trouble learning how to use new tech tools.

To help combat those challenges, AARP last year developed and launched the RealPad, an easier-to-use android tablet with larger icons, video tutorials, and customer support to help seniors who are less experienced with technology.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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