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Give Your Boomer Mama Some Tech Credit

May 14, 2012

Not long ago I was at an app developer meet-up discussing Baby Boomers and their technology desires.

“It’s important that we have easy to read fonts and 12 point type in the apps,” I was explaining to a developer.  “The light fancy font young people use is very hard on our eyes.”

No sooner had I finished my sentence when a young 20-something guy in scruffy jeans and t-shirt resembling the comic strip character Jeremy from Zits looked in my direction and uttered,   “Man, do these Boomer moms even know how to use smartphones?”

“Well yeah, dude, who do you think taught you?” I wanted to tell Zits, but my “momness” got in the way.

Just an uninformed kid I thought destined to design an app that probably won’t stick.  He he.

So I took my 57-year-old mom self over to a table and sat with some other more friendly faces.  After a few introductions we started exchanging apps on our smartphones. Pretty soon, I was the cool one; with the apps no one had seen.  I explained why these particular apps appealed to Boomers.

“How do you know all this?” one young woman questioned.

Kiddingly I responded “I’m a Boomer, and I’m a Mom. We invented technology”

The befuddled look on her face warranted more explanation, but the meet-up speaker began.

However, had I had the opportunity to pontificate I would have explained that we Moms, we Baby Boomer Moms, were involved in technology long before we gave birth to the youngins’.

We had computers in the 70s and cellphones in the early 80s.  We signed up for AOL as early adopters.

We got on Facebook to keep a watchful eye on our teenagers.   We learned to text to communicate with our college aged kids.  We might be a little slow to learn all of the facets of a program, but we know the basics.

And now 35 years later, we are going like gangbusters,–and there is no stopping us.  Just walk in an Apple store and see how many of the customers are over 50?  And are women?  More than half, stats show.

According to a  2010 comScore report, women spend 8 percent more time online than their male counterparts — and those active Internet users aren’t just teens. Women over the age of  55 spend an average of nearly 300 minutes a month on social networking sites.  Men our age averaged less than 200 minutes a month doing the same time period.

So watch out Zits, we’re gaining steam.

My own personal tech journey started in high school.  My Mom insisted that I take typing.  “You never know when you’ll need it,” she preached over and over again.  She was right; I’m a master at the keyboard a skill has served well through many decades.  In fact, in college I was one of the few who owned an electric typewriter.  I used it to type term papers for others—charging $5 a page—hefty stakes in the mid-70s.

And like so many, once I was bit by the tech bug it didn’t stop.  It grew–as did my income, allowing me to accumulate even more tech devices.   I have a bundle– laptop, iPod, iPad, iPhone, (I started with the original Blackberry) and kindle.

And there I was one day, sitting with my 29-year-old son flanked by our tech gear and I asked him life’s proverbial question “now what?

He’s my only child and he lives in different state than me.  He has a great education, a good career path, and wonderful wife.  My “mom job” isn’t even part time anymore.

“Be a blogger,” he says.  “Write what you know.”  “You can do it.”  “I’ll set you up with a site.”

“Ok,” I agree.  And I’m off.  I blog about Boomers and apps, and I love it.  I’m excited about all the new tech stuff I’m learning and about my new adventure that keeps me current, vital and working with younger people.

I run into hurdles every now and again.  I email my son questions and he replies with links to teach me how to solve my own challenges.

“Google is your friend, Mom,” he writes.  “Use it for your questions.”

He teaches me, like I taught him, and my Mom taught me, giving me the tools to do the task myself.

Encouragement wears many faces.  Today I’m lucky to be sandwiched between two very strong and loving faces; my own Mom who gave me the foundation to start a life, and my son who gives me the support to keep creating the future.

This blog originally appeared on blog.aarp.org on 5/13/12

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One Comment
  1. Loved this! I’m a boomer mom and I get so giddy over tech that I’m often enlightening MY adult kids to awesome things their iPhones can do. My kids did they same as yours….persuaded me to write a tech blog for boomers. And so, I am giving it a try. http://sharechair.wordpress.com/
    So far it’s great fun!

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