Archive for March, 2018

Putting an old face on it

March 8, 2018

It is part of the narrative about digital natives that older citizens can not handle Facebook. They don’t understand it. They don’t use it. A handy place to see all the discussion on this subject is at

You’d be better, however, to read the research by Kathleen Kuehn, a lecturer in Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. She reports that: “generational differences are not really key factors in what people do on line. [The idea of] ‘digital natives’ versus ‘digital immigrants’ is actually somewhat of a mythical construction… how often someone goes online and what they’re using the internet for, whether their family members are internet users, how accessible devices are as well as the users level of education are all better indicators’” of a user’s competence.

The Pew Research Centre reports older adults are signing up to Facebook in increasing numbers.  In 2016 62% of adults 65 and older who were using the internet regularly were accessing Facebook. In 2015, that figure was 48%.

Will this evidence convince the people who post on Reddit? Will it cause employers and managers to let go of the “digital immigrants” tag?  Will it ever? In a time when discriminating in the workplace on the grounds of race or gender will cause you a lot of grief, you can still get away with discrimination on the grounds of age. Of course, such discrimination is illegal in this country so better to allege that the employee in question is past it, increasingly incompetent with ICT. Everyone knows that is a fact, don’t they? Since when do we need to consider the evidence? Confirmation bias rules!