Last week at a family dinner my grandfather (henceforth known as Bapak) handed my 10 year old cousin his mobile and asked him to find some text messages. Bapak swore he had received two that morning but because he didn’t open them immediately they had disappeared. My cousin finds twelve-times-tables difficult but he is an expert at technology. After about 15 seconds of navigating the phone, my cousin announced that there were no unread text messages and Bapak must have accidentally deleted them. This was closely followed by protests from Bapak.
“I didn’t delete them! I’m not that old! The phone does it by itself. It’s happened before. It just deletes them automatically if I don’t open them straight away. It’s a stupidphone not a smartphone!”
After everyone at the table had a go at trying to find the lost messages it was decided that they must have been accidentally deleted or there hadn’t been any in the first place. Bapak looked slightly perplexed but eventually started laughing.
“Maybe I am that old.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that less than half of Australian aged 65 years and over are regular internet users. They cite that paying bills or banking online are the most predominant uses of the internet by senior Australians, followed closely by accessing government websites. Pew Research provides many reasons for why the elderly partake in much less internet use such as:
- Physical challenges
- Paranoia about new technology and
- Being afraid of difficult to use new technology
None of these reasons apply to Bapak. He is mentally and physically very healthy, he is very open to technology that he considers improves his life (despite the aforementioned outburst about stupidphones), and if he gets shown how to do something he can usually do it on his own afterwards. By that logic he should be a seasoned internet user, surfing the web for Jamie Oliver recipes and cat videos. However he only accesses the internet at most once a day to check his email and maybe look at a news site. He never goes over his internet plan that includes 5GB a month of data, while my family recently upgraded to unlimited after regularly exceeding our 200GB a month plan.
When I asked him if the internet was important to him his immediate answer was “No. It’s convenient but by no means is it a big part of my life.”
So it’s probably not a surprise that Bapak wasn’t very affected by the news that the NBN was not yet available in his area.
“I would much rather live my life around my family than around the computer anyway.”