Monday, July 21, 2008

Is McCain out of step with tech savvy senior peers?

Thanks to my ever-so-helpful husband for referring me to this interesting article from about how Senator McCain (presumed Republican presidential candidate) compares to other seniors in his Internet use (or lack thereof). To sum up: the Senator admits to being technologically "illiterate" and relying on his wife to help him navigate the Web. The CNN article sites statistics that only 35% of seniors use the Internet, but that 75% of white, college-educated men 65 and over do. If you look at those numbers, McCain looks a little out of step with his peers.

But perhaps things are not quite what they appear. The Senator's aides have clarified that he is capable of getting on the Internet himself and does so several times a week. It seems to me that these statements (1-he's "illiterate" and 2-he accesses the Internet at least once a week) can't both be 100% accurate. Probably Senator McCain feels tech illiterate compared to his tech savvy family and staff, but probably isn't actually so out of touch as the phrase "computer illiterate" would lead people to believe.

Which leads me to think about other senior citizens in our tech saturated world. How many actually know a lot more than they think they know? How many are intimidated by computer technology and feel stupid when comparing themselves to peers they believe are more sophisticated and tech savvy then they? How many lack the confidence to even try to get on the Internet?

It seems to me that Senator McCain has stumbled upon a great teachable moment. He has now, with the media focused on this issue, the opportunity to speak to other American seniors and say, "Look, I didn't grow up with this technology either. It's new and intimidating for me, too. But I'm learning, I'm benefiting from it, and you can too." He has the chance to inspire seniors to learn and grow and take the plunge into the Internet world.

Senator? The class is yours....

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