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Survey: US seniors spent nearly three times more on technology than in 2019, used more devices during pandemic

Whether it be streaming movies, video chatting or navigating smart devices, the use of technology among older adults rose significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic according to AARP’s (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) annual technology survey.

With older adults at a higher risk of Covid and social distancing guidelines in place, face-to-face interaction was very restricted. These changes caused adults 50-years and older to purchase new devices and use them more often. Sales for TVs, smartphones, tablets, wearables and audio devices all increased, according to AARP.

But the barriers to technology were not eliminated though, as AARP reported that older adults said cost, knowledge gaps and privacy concerns were among the top reasons they may be hesitant to adopt new technology.

More than half, 54%, of survey respondence said they want to have a better grasp of their devices while 37% said they lacked confidence when using their technology.

The survey produced results on ownership of devices, staying connected during the pandemic, use of streaming content and concerns about privacy, literacy and access.

First, the survey suggested that ownership of devices among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s has increased. Adults in their 70s were found to enjoy tablets, with 53% of respondents owning one compared to 40% in 2019. Further, 69% of those 70 and older said they use their tablets every day.

People are spending more money on devices as well, with older individuals spending an average of US$1,144 (RM4,775) on technology, up from US$394 (RM1,644) in 2019. The top three purchases were smartphones, smart TVs and Bluetooth headsets/earbuds, according to AARP.

On the topic of staying connected while distanced during Covid, the survey found that more than 80% of those older than 50 said they use technology in some form to stay connected, many on a daily basis. This could include texting, emailing, social media and video chatting.

Around 44% of respondents said that they had a more positive feeling towards technology since the start of the pandemic as well.

Streaming among older individuals also increased and many are using smart TVs to do so. In 2020, 64% of older people reported owning one, compared to 49% in 2019. Among those 70 and older, more than half now own a smart TV, according to AARP.

Despite all these changes, concerns over privacy, literacy and access still remain, AARP said. Around 44% of older adults said they were not confident that their online activity is private and more than half responded that they are not confident the information they give or receive from their smart home assistant stays private.

AARP researched through an online and phone survey of 2,807 adults ages 18 and older, with 2,271 adults being 50-plus. The survey was conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 20, 2020, in English and Spanish. – masslive.com/Tribune News Service

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