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Tue Mar 31, 2020, 05:20 PM

Meet the Baby Zoomers: how older Britons are finally getting to grips with technology


Deprived of face-to-face contact, the over-65s are turning to video chat - often for the first time - to keep up to date with loved ones

Geoffrey Brook was deeply apprehensive when he heard that his fellow over-70s were being asked to remain indoors to protect them from the new coronavirus. His wife, Mary, died shortly before Christmas, leaving him alone at his home in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and the prospect of several months with no visitors was not an attractive one. “January and February were a bit of a pickle,” the 87-year-old recalls. “But I’m starting to find my feet again. The vision of being locked in the house completely … I wouldn’t say it frightened me, but it was upsetting. The idea of not seeing anybody or talking to anybody was very unpleasant.”

To help keep him in touch, his granddaughter, Harriet, taught him how to download Houseparty, an app aimed at millennials that allows users to have group video conversations. He found it surprisingly easy. “The grandchildren have been very good at setting me up with all sorts of things. I say, ‘I don’t know how’, and they say, ‘You just press this button’, then about 30 seconds later I’m ‘Housepartying’. You can see somebody smile, which you can’t do on the telephone.” The unprecedented ‘social distancing’ measures imposed by the government earlier this week put an end, virtually overnight, to millions of face-to-face interactions. Particularly affected are the 3.8 million Britons aged over 65 who live alone, most of whom are now unable to receive visits from friends or family. No cups of tea with your neighbour, no game of Bridge or pub drinks with friends, and certainly no visits from your grandchildren on Mother’s Day.

Baby Boomers and the generations that came before them are often thought of as “tech averse” - they did not grow up with computers and so struggle in a digital world, it is said, and as many as 29 percent of Britons aged over 65 have never used the internet, which rises to 47 percent of the over-75s, according to the Centre for Ageing Better. Older people who do venture on to social media often find themselves belittled by millennials with jokes like “Ok, Boomer.” But now, many of them are being forced to grapple with online technology if they want to continue their work or hobbies, or keep speaking to their family. From FaceTime to multi-screen social apps like Zoom and Houseparty, some once-technophobic Boomers are now organising everything from virtual dinner parties to digital quiz nights.

Trisha Smart, a 67-year-old university lecturer, admits that she was “terrified” after being told that her series of lectures would be moved online, and says she was far more stressed about that than she was about catching coronavirus. She was supposed to be flying to Jordan to deliver the lecturers in person at Middle East University; now, she has to film the lectures from her home in Harpenden, and has spent much of the last fortnight desperately trying to get to grips with a programme called Blackboard Collaborator; “I thought at 67 I shouldn’t need to learn new things,” she sighs.


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Reply Meet the Baby Zoomers: how older Britons are finally getting to grips with technology (Original post)
Celerity Mar 2020 OP
badseedboy Mar 2020 #1

Response to Celerity (Original post)

Tue Mar 31, 2020, 05:29 PM

1. related article

"Is the Houseparty app safe? How it works – and how to delete your account
Users have complained of hackers using Houseparty to access their Paypal, Spotify and Netflix accounts"


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