The age of mobility
There is a standing joke that if you can’t programme your vcr you ask a child to do it for you. As domestic technology becomes more complex older people are going to get left behind and more and more products will be marketed at children at an ever younger age. This does not mean that everyone over 60 will not be able to use some of the technology, but it seems likely that they will only be able to use what they grew old with, for example, if they used a desktop pc at work, they will not lose this ability, but will not easily adapt to laptop or pda, or mp3 player.
However, demographics suggest that by 2020 over 50% of Europe’s population will be over 50, and it is known that school rolls are due to fall significantly during the next 10 years. The resulting lower numbers of youngsters and increasing numbers of elderly people mean that technology that is only usable or only marketed at the under 25’s, will have a slowly decreasing marketshare, with a wide gulf between the “can users” and “Can’t users”.
Computer literate parents are likely to introduce their children to computer games at an early age, and the majority of games for younger children are designated “learning” games. Certainly from the age of 4, children in UK schools, start to use computers for tasks that are a combination of play and learning. This means that children start to build their knowledge of the “virtual” world of computers, before they are capable of thinking and acting logically, (Piaget’s concrete operational stage of development 7-11years). From about the age of 11, they become capable of abstract thought and proposing and testing hypotheses, but by this age many children are already superficially technically competent, and regular users of the internet and mobile phones, for both communication and interactive games.
Parents who would never take their 7 or 8 year old to the park and leave them there, install computers in the child’s bedroom and...