Millennials are fascinated by older people using technology. While at the gym, a fellow told the story of a 30-something he was mentoring at work. When the older fellow’s watch beeped, the millennial remarked, “You’re on Twitter?” Another gym buddy, a sales manager at a medical supply company, always gets a laugh when he brings up “I hear the Internet will really be a big thing someday.”
As an accountant, you work with busy people. You need to know their comfort level with technology. The variation by generation is less than you might think. It also varies by device.
How Seniors View Technology
The Pew Research Center tracks this information regularly. It often studies how seniors (age 65 and older) adapt to technology. Your clientele likely includes many. Yes, seniors use the Internet.
Broadly speaking, 59 percent of seniors use the Internet regularly, according to Pew’s 2014 report, up from 53 percent in 2012. Seventy-one percent are online daily, up from 70 percent earlier. Seventy-seven percent are cellphone owners, up from 69 percent. Getting in touch with your older clients is getting easier, as 27 percent of seniors own smartphones.
Now here’s the good news: Those senior smartphone owners equate their phone with “freedom,” while larger numbers of younger users (millennials and baby boomers) consider their smartphone “a leash.”
Why are seniors happier with their mobile device? Because they use it for a narrower range of purposes. It’s not a major distraction. Because they are retired, their office isn’t tracking them down.
But all seniors aren’t alike. Technology adoption splits by age, income, and education levels. Considering income, 90 percent of your senior clients with incomes of more than $75,000 are embracing the Internet, compared to 39 percent of seniors earning less than $30,000. If they have a college degree, the acceptance rate is 87 percent.
How old they were when technology arrived is another factor. Seventy-four percent of seniors age 65 to 69 are online daily, compared to 37 percent of seniors over 80. Do they feel they are missing anything? Among senior non-Internet users, 49 percent think they are missing out on information; 40 percent are pretty sure they aren’t.