You Really Are Never Too Old To Learn A New Technology

Truly! There is absolutely no age cut-off for learning a new technology. I mean, if a four-year-old can operate an iPad, there is absolutely no reason why that infant's grandmother or grandfather shouldn't be able to as well. After all, most if not all of our grandparents have used a typewriter at one point or another. And that's already a step above the kind of hands-on life experience a pre-schooler is working with.

My grandmother got her first computer eight years ago. A big Dell desktop, which she's used for mostly email and basic web browsing. Sure, back in 2004, this might have been fine for her. But that machine is truly on its last legs -- in need of repairs too costly to justify, especially for a hulking monitor-and-tower combo that can't be easily brought anywhere.

Today I took my *grandmother to the Apple Store, to help her choose the right new machine on which to do her very basic computing. She was reluctant, to be sure.

"I don't know" she said to me over the phone. "I'd really rather read some consumer reports at the library before I make any big purchases." Then I reminded her where I work and told her to meet me at The Grove in an hour.

Why Apple?

This has nothing to do with Apple elitism or favoritism or whatever else you're already thinking. For $US99, Apple's One-to-One program is an absolute bargain. Switching operating systems can be confusing enough when you've grown up using a computer; for someone my grandmother's age -- 85! -- the ability to pop in to the Apple Store for a 30-minute or hour-long lesson on using some feature or another on her new machine is seemingly invaluable.

Ultimately, we walked away with a new MacBook Air (13-inch, entry level everything, $1349), a new printer (because her eight-year-old printer is also on its last legs and isn't wireless, $109), One-to-One and Apple Care (because it's always better to splurge on AppleCare than to pay big $$$ for repairs after your 1-year warranty runs out).

The MBA is light and super portable, perfect for someone who plans to take advantage of One-to-One. Sure, if you're only sending email and getting MapQuest directions, the entry-level 11-inch MBA is a perfectly adequate machine. But let's not forget that ageing eyes require bigger fonts, bigger everything really -- the price discrepancy between the basic 11-inch and the basic 13-inch was a justifiable expense, in this case, just for those two extra diagonal inches alone.

Really, if my 85-year-old grandmother can learn how to wrangle Wi-Fi and adjust to the modern convenience that is the trackpad (and Gestures!), nobody has any excuse not to learn a new technology.

Image: sima/Shutterstock

*Actual grandmother not pictured



    SOME old people are just stubborn and don't want to learn or think it's too hard or that it's not worth it, which is really sad because they're often alone/lonely/whinging that no one communicates with them.
    There should be better resources out there to teach old people technology. It's so much easier emailing someone at work than having to call them. And video chatting, well, that's just something else!


    If you'd stuck with a windows PC she wouldn't need to relearn the operating system and wouldn't need 1 to 1.

    Does your Gran sit in Coffee shops taking pictures of her lunch will blogging on free WiFi? Probably not, then she doesn't need an ultra portable and could have saved herself $1000 and bought her a 24 inch monitor instead now she has to strain her poor eyes to see the tiny screen.

    Some perspective - I used to tutor older people in PC basics when I was in Uni, moving their cheese is not fun. Your Gran loves you and probably doesn't want to hurt your feelings.

      Other than the buying a dedicated 24 inch screen I'm not sure if the rest of your post is correct.

      She's an old lady. The only thing she needs to relearn is that the Internet is now called safari. The Internet works the same way on any browser at the end of the day.

      I usually recommend the cheapest new computer (as it comes with a warranty and I get to hide behind the it's under warranty and I don't want void it) and then the largest screen they can afford.

      Although a lot of old people do seem to want notebooks for some reason. And from that perspective the air isn't a bad buy.


    Buying a computer is one thing (MBA or otherwise, but there is still some basic similarity to a normal computer), how she's going in a few weeks is an entirely different thing.

    (True story) I helped an old lady yesterday who was lost. She mentioned an address, so I pulled out my iphone (thankfully still running IOS5 with google maps) and searched the street address she told me. No luck. Whats the name of the place? This is where it gets fun. She pulls a Galaxy S3 out of her bag and starts randomly swiping and touching the screen. Eventually it unlocks. A few more best intentioned swipes, nothing happens. A couple more with a few very concerted taps on the screen and I think the phone gives up and unlocks in frustration. Thankfully it only takes a couple of taps to get the messages open (though still far more difficult than it needed to be) and we find the name of the place which I then successfully find in maps on my own phone.

    I'll bet money that her son or some young dude in Telstra convinced her how easy it was to use, and wowed her with all these features that was going to make her life easier. And yet when she needed it (she knew her phone had maps, but admitted she didnt know where to find it or how to use it), she was both stuck and frustrated.

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