Generation Game

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By Justin Bowie


A long-perpetuated stereotype has existed within society that older generations hate technology. They find modern mobile phones to be over-complicated and cluttered. They view social media as being vapid. They are, essentially, seen to be technologically illiterate.

Yet, in spite of this, it appears that Facebook is becoming a haven for the older generation, joining the typical band of youngsters who have typically used the website, alongside a multitude of other social media platforms.

As it turns out, our current older generation may not be as adverse to the idea of technology as is often imagined and it is understandable as to why this is the case. Platforms such as Facebook allow those who have spent most of their lives without our current level of technology an opportunity to connect with those closest to them with ease. Distant relatives from across the globe can be conversed with at the opening of a chat bar. The posts and good news of youngsters can be accessed by parents, and perhaps even grandparents, without difficulty.

Of course, Facebook is not the only platform which is utilised by older generations. Venture onto Twitter and anyone with a significant profile will likely be connected to the website. Veteran politicians, who perhaps spent many of their years conversing with voters in more traditional ways, will almost always now be connected to the social media website which allows users to gain increasing traction through its eponymous ‘Retweet’ system.

The ability for information to spread through social media is crucial, and just as with anyone else, older generations can use it as a platform to promote their own businesses.

A report entitled Generation Games – commissioned by the Oddfellows Friendly Society during its Friendship Month – reaffirmed this idea: over 55s said that they held an interest in learning skills such as breakdancing and snowboarding – activities more commonly associated with more-abled individuals.

However, this issue is far from one-sided with the report indicating the lack of a perceived generational gap which is often touted by many. Youngsters believe that they obtain many skills from their elders, such as improved manners and social skills, while also being able to lean upon their experienced elders when it came to issues such as relationship advice. Overall, it appears that the elderly and the youngsters both have a desire to spend time together.

Commenting on the findings of this report the Chief Executive Officer of Oddfellows, Jane Nelson, said that, “younger and older people want to spend time together, swapping talents and advice, and benefit hugely from each other’s company.”

She added that, “these groups are miles apart in terms of their life experience and expertise but our research found that it is these very differences that make their companionship so rewarding and fun.”

Nearly 95% of over 55s and under 25s stated that they enjoy spending time together, yet a problem remains. In spite of the desire for the old and young to converse and impart their wisdom upon each other, it is often difficult for the elderly to do so, many becoming isolated and alone in their older age.

“What is saddening is that it is the over 75s who value the company of the under 25s most highly yet have the fewest opportunities to spend time with them,” Nelson said.

Arguably, this highlights a larger issue: are the very oldest within our society are devoid of connection with others?

Unlike those who are only just past the 55 age mark, very elderly citizens are often long-retired, may have potentially lost a number of close friends, may not have the confidence to explore an ever-changing world… the Generation Games report shows that older people retain a desire to do many things younger generations frequently practise, yet it is perhaps the case that more has to be done in order to ensure that the connection between both generations remains. Maintaining this bond is especially important given that both young and old are in favour of it.

Nevertheless, this report shows that the generational gap between over 55s and under 25s is exaggerated with those of vastly varying ages being more than willing to mutually learn from the other. So, what can you do now to reach out to your elders?d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);