Technology staggers golden oldies

A grandfather and grandson working together on a laptop.
A grandfather and grandson working together on a laptop.
Image: 123RF

Despite international research stating that more senior citizens are fast embracing apps and gadgets, when it comes to technology, our golden oldies are not wise after all.

Their motto is to leave gadgets and apps well enough alone.

Many still prefer vinyls, rotary dial phones and banks are generally not trusted as their money is safer under the mattress. Don't even mention the idea of paperless money to them.

  • Morongoe Ntsala Mohaleroe from Qwa Qwa in the Free State is a charming 58-year-old lady who says it took a little while to progress from SMS to the more complex WhatsApp.

As a director at the department of social development in the Free State's Thabo Mofutsanyane district, she is forced to try and keep up with the rapid speed of technology. But even she suffers from the fear of the unknown.

"[I] had to be prodded by my personal assistant to download WhatsApp. I always rely on youngsters on setting up my phone," she admits.

Asked if she prefers texting, video calling or voice notes, she says it all depends.

"For formal communication I prefer texting and informal ones video calls, mostly to family and friends. I seldom do voice calls," she says.

And unlike many older adults who struggle to see the keypad and type at a snail's pace, she says she is generally quick. And while most use two hands to type, she uses only one finger.

Mohaleroe doesn't have a Facebook account, but she can handle internet banking through which she transacts.

  • Delphia Miller, 54, from Davidsonville in Roodepoort, says she was excited at the prospect of having a Facebook profile set up by her younger neighbour. But she only went as far as learning how to like people's statuses and accept friend requests.

She had no idea how to search for the long-lost friends she longs for, upload pictures and express what's on her mind on the site.

So she ended up deleting the app from her mobile because "the dumb thing keeps telling me there isn't enough memory". She says she regularly uses WhatsApp but never really texts.

"I like voice notes . I'm also as slow as a tortoise when I have to type. I don't know how to use both hands so I type with one finger.

"I've never tried online banking either. I prefer carrying my money in [my] bra or [putting it] under the mattress and paying whatever I need to in the shop," says Miller.

  • Puleng Mono, 51, from Wepener in the Free State, says she wondered why she was constantly running out of data. It wasn't until she asked her employer to install WhatsApp on her phone that she realised she had more than 10 apps open and running in the background.

"I wasn't even aware I had these things on my phone and no one showed me how to close anything," she laughs.

She suspects it was her 10-year-old daughter Dineo who installed apps such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube on her device.

"I don't know these things. Apparently she set up a Facebook profile in my name, and invited all my friends, family, past employers and their children.

"I have since asked her to show me how it works - but dololo," says Mono.

She is more shocked to hear that one can even go to an ATM without a bank card to withdraw money via cash transfer services banks offer through their banking apps.

"Haai, the world is moving too fast," Mono quips.

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