Baby Boomers and the Great Divide

The time frame for births that fall into the baby boomer classification has been defined by sociologists, demographers and the media as 1946 to 1964 census. Encarta defines the Digital Divide as “inequality of access to information technology: the difference in opportunities available to people who have access to modern information technology and those who do not”. This inequality is recorded in a multitude of classifications such as socioeconomic, national, ethnic, and cultural differences and age groups as well. K. L. Norman wrote about this disparity in the book Cyberpsychology, an Introduction to Human- Computer Interaction. Although some baby boomers are powerful and well-adjusted, the majority is not keeping pace with the lightening speed of technological innovations.

baby boomer

The Great Divide, the Digital Divide and Generation X

The term Great Divide has been defined by several sciences from geographical to sociological to theories in economy. But, it is also associated with the Digital Divide to mean inequality in skills and access. The Internet should be a blessing to older citizens considering increased idle time and difficulties with daily tasks, yet, the opposite is true.

The Pew Internet Project organization sampled 2,200 adults ages 18 and higher of whom 1518 were Internet users. Generation Y (ages 18-24) ranked higher with 22% in comparison to 17% for baby boomers (ages 40-58). Generation X and Y have more time to travel, contact family and friends, attend reunions, enjoy leisure activities etc. According to Aging Hipsters this generation makes up today’s largest demographic group and the Baby Boomers Headquarters informs that boomers comprise 29% of the overall population.

Baby Boomers Problems

Understandably, a few difficulties have been identified as crucial when one considers the gap in technology use among senior citizens in general. SeniorWatch, an European Union organization that monitors the needs and market for older citizens reports that 48% of citizens older than 50 agree with the statement “I’m too old to familiarize myself with computer”. The reason for this statement is that older persons think that PC operations are too complicated to be mastered.

For boomers the prospects are more encouraging. The American Life Project reports that Generation X actually has more in common with younger adults than older citizens. Jed Kolko, an analyst at Forrester Research stated: “today’s boomers may become seniors, but they won’t behave like today’s seniors do. They will have carried that history of using the Internet at work and in their past into their senior years.”

Pew polled 2,200 adults at random by telephone, the result was that 82% boomers, age 38 to 56, have used computers before which is close to 86% for age 18 to 37. Additionally, boomers and young adults are close ranked in online purchases, researching political information, map directions, etc.

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