Aging and the Internet

August 22, 2010

By Dr. Larry Anderson

This morning, after checking the email on my laptop, I somehow lost my Internet connection and I couldn’t figure out how to get re-connected.  So, I went into the family room where Elizabeth, who is my 60-year-old Boomer wife, was in the midst of an online computer game of Halo.  She was fighting in a mythical environment along other people who could be anywhere in the world.  For instance, one person lives in South America.

Aside from her skills in computer technology, Elizabeth is an art student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  Among other things she has created an Internet blog, which she uses to share her ideas and paintings with other artists who are scattered all over the world. It is very exciting to read comments about her work and art in general from people living in places like Australia and Europe.

Internet use can help us older adults benefit from information in a wide number of areas, including health and finances.  We can also use emails to strengthen and maintain our social connections with family and friends.

Losing my Internet connection has happened before, but after this recent experience I decided to look around and see what I could find out about seniors’ usage of computers. The first thing I found, would you believe it, was information about aging and Internet dating.  One study explored 600 Internet personal adds listed on Yahoo, one of the major Internet sites.  The oldest people looking for dates were 75 plus years old. Everyone was looking for a person of the opposite sex.

For a long time it has been found that mating activities involve men looking for younger pretty women and women looking for older men, who have accomplished higher status in society.

It seems that no matter how old we get men continue to seek younger good looking women and women of all ages keep seeking higher status men; that is until they get to be 75, when they start looking for men younger than themselves

Internet users tend to be wealthier and better educated, especially among seniors. And the Baby Boomers, now on the edge of retirement, may dramatically increase computer use among older people.  As they continue to retire they will bring computer skills into the experience of retirement.

It is reported that already, 76% of people over 65 have taught themselves to use computers. Most of them have access to computers at home and spend an average of 5 hours a week surfing emailing.  Email is the most favored activity. For me too!  About an hour ago, I emailed my next oldest brother who lives in Florida. He and one of my other bothers are planning to visit my 95-year-old mother who lives in the western United States, this August.  I am contemplating meeting them there. I just checked for a response a couple of minutes ago.

Another thing we do on the Internet is to seek Google health information.   I particularly am interested in aging and memory.  I often forget where I’ve parked my car.  After learning this trick from a Google search, I now take a few moments to record special characteristics of my parking spot which helps a great deal in finding my parking spot. But that’s another story.

What do you use the Internet for? Has using the Internet made you your life better or easier?

About the Author: Dr. Larry Anderson is university professor of psychology who is retiring soon. He has started a company called BC Community Building and plans on presenting workshops to prepare people for retirement. Dr. Anderson is on the board of the Langley Senior’s Resource Society. Read more of Larry’s articles at his blog.

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  • Margaret M

    I’m Margaret M, a youthful 86 year old historian and published author. I use Google for research… lots of research… but I also use books. I have books dating back to the 1800s… lots of references in the old encyclopedia.

    I have a wide correspondence by snail mail and e-mail! … and Dr. Larry Anderson, you are just a sprig of a lad. You are not at all old.

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