I don’t remember living in house without a computer. I always knew how to get on the internet. I got my first cellphone at 14, and that was late. Now, toddlers play with tablets and elementary school kids have smartphones. Technology is blossoming, and for those of us who were born into this age (who have been dubbed “digital natives”) it’s not that hard to keep up. But for anyone over the age of 40, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the technology that is exploding all around us.
- Why do we need it?
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. The fact of the matter is, adapting and utilizing new technology can greatly enhance the immigrants’ life in many ways (even if the old system still works). For business, it can be beneficial for the bottom line, and in personal life, technology can make connecting with friends and family much easier.
- How does it work?
This is one of the biggest issues that technology immigrants face. If they can wrap their heads around a new product, getting it to work is the second hurdle. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of knowledge transfer that can occur when updating to a new system, but other times the new way is completely foreign. Attempting to learn without someone who is skilled can lead to frustration and abandonment of the technology.
- Can we afford it?
Most technology immigrant might not know how to avoid high costs when upgrading technology. And they might be frequently taken advantage of, be it in the business sector or just looking to get a new DVD player.
- How do we communicate?
I’ll be honest, I equate sending a text message with calling. I will text my friends happy birthday, or good luck on a job interview, or just because. Technology immigrants tend to prefer face-to-face communication or talking on the phone. For natives, there is a different protocol as to what is acceptable in different situations.
- How is this fun?
Technology isn’t all work – a lot of it natives spend time “plugged in” for fun. The internet houses Facebook, games, television, music and so much more. Technology immigrants tend to not enjoy the internet at much as natives.
- What’s the point of multitasking?
Even as I write this, I have a television show playing in the background and I’m constantly checking my text messages. Technology has, in a lot of ways, forced us to juggle many tasks at once, whereas the older generations are used to completely focusing on one task until its completion.
- How does this affect the non-traditional student?
I’m in college right now, and there are several students in my classes who are over 60. The classes require an online component called Blackboard, submitting tapes via the internet, emailing, and reading textbooks online. The technology immigrant might want to go back to school but may be intimidated by the technological aspect of the classes.
- How will this impact work?
Telecommuting in the workplace is common. It’s generally cheaper to set up a conferencing system instead of paying to fly employees out to various locations. Tech immigrants are less comfortable with this mode of communicating and might have more trouble presenting this way.
- Is it safe?
These technology immigrants tend to be more suspicious of what they put online. In some ways, this is a valid concern that can actually protect their private interests. Natives tend to be increasingly more trusting of websites and will offer up information without questioning it as much.
- Will it look silly?
Many technology immigrants keep the technology at arm’s length because they feel they will look out of place doing what all the younger kids are doing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone should take advantage of technology and learn to make technology work for them.