GranTechies: Rise of the silver surfer

When it comes to using the internet, Australia’s over-60s — many of whom are grandparents — are a savvy bunch. In fact, you are so adept at using online platforms that new research has revealed the explosion of smart device purchases and an increase in the access of super fast broadband is all being driven by you.

The research was commissioned by the operators of the National Broadband Network (NBN Co) and says the most of the tech-savvy grandparents — affectionately known as GranTechies — would find it difficult to imagine their lives without the internet and more than 90 per cent admit to jumping online every day.

It turns out you are just as tech savvy as your children and your grandchildren, and feel that staying abreast of developments in technology (including the use of the internet) keeps you educated and gives you a sense of purpose.

This research is hardly surprising to Starts at 60 community member and president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association (ASCCA), Nan Bosler.

“Gone are the days where grandparents were thought of as tech dinosaurs,” Bosler says, highlighting the research identifies just how well older Australians are riding the tech wave.

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“With widespread access to fast broadband… GranTechies are moving beyond using the internet to simply keep in contact with family and friends to become more advanced online users.”

Since it was formed in 1998, Bosler says the ASCCA has seen an increasing number of Australian over-60s taking advantage of modern information technology to support their individual needs to to provide them with further challenges.

Some of the challenges over-60s faced when adopting new technologies included physical challenges to using technology, such as a disability, handicap or chronic disease that prevented them from fully immersing themselves in the technology; a skeptical attitude about what benefit the internet would have; and difficulties learning how the technology could be used, which included the internet as well as smartphones and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

However, once you have joined the online world it seems as though digital technology become an integral part of your daily life.

“Seniors today are using the internet for all sorts of things,” Bosler says. “It has been a very important development in their lifestyle… It’s quite amazing what they can do.”

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She says the internet offers so much to seniors across Australia, allowing you to do things you might never have thought possible.

You are using the internet for a range of tasks. Activities that keep you connected to family and friends, such as email and Skype, are the greatest uses (85 per cent); while almost 60 per cent of you use the internet for online shopping; nearly 50 per cent search for online recipes and cooking tips; and 24 per cent of you are so proficient in the use of the internet you are downloading or streaming music and video content.

On a personal note, Bosler says the internet has become an important part of her life. She says she uses it to check her emails each day, but she is also using the technology to undertake a university course in another state.

“I’m very pleased to think that seniors are now becoming confident and aware users of the internet,” Bosler says.

As the internet continues to play an increasing role in the way Australians of all ages connect to news and information, services, health resources, and opportunities to remain social, the research here is important for ensuring the technology needs of over-60s are met.

How tech savvy would you say you are when it comes to using the internet and technology? How do you use the internet? Share your experiences with us.