Robin Bryant loves technology which keeps him in touch with family and friends.
Robin Bryant loves technology which keeps him in touch with family and friends. Warren Lynam

Seniors embrace technology

SIXTY-five-year-old Robin Bryant is one of the Sunshine Coast's silver surfers.

But rather than his crop of long white hair hitting the waves each day, he's a silver surfer of technology.

In fact, he's probably more tech-savvy than most teenagers, defying the technophobic stereotype of older Australians.

The retiree from Mallacoota, Victoria, has a holiday house on the Sunshine Coast and frequently visits family here.

Robin said his work as a Commonwealth public servant meant he had accessed the internet when it was first introduced in the early '80s and he had taken on new technologies as they arose.

Now the proud owner of an iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC and Kindle, he enjoys using them to go on Twitter, Facebook and Skype, as well as the usual website surfing.

He uses Skype to keep in touch with family and friends across the world, frequently books travel online, googles "just about everything" and often lends his Kindle to friends with poor eyesight so they can catch up on their book reading.

Robin also uses his iPhone app while cycling to measure the distances he travels, as well as his heart rate and calories burned.

He believes technology is easy to use.

"It's a snap - as long as people understand and don't fear it," he said.

While he agreed that those who had not grown up using the technologies could find the changes challenging, he described the innovations as "absolutely brilliant" as they allowed people from all walks of life and ages to access the same information.

"Such information used to be only fundamentally for the wealthy because you needed encyclopedias," he said.

"It's just so easy these days. You have access to it all, wherever you are.

"It's a different world we're living in."

Robin said the internet was an easy way to keep up with world news and as a result, he subscribed to sites such as The Guardian, CNN and other US news sites.

Although he has profiles on both Twitter and Facebook, he prefers Twitter because of its instantaneous responses.

"It (Twitter) has a huge capacity to assimilate a broad amount of information in a short amount of time," he said.

"It's not being filtered, so you get to see people as they are - something you don't get with newspapers because of all the gatekeeping that goes on."

Now, his wife is hooked, too.

"I gave my wife an iPhone a few months ago and now she's a junkie," he said with a laugh.

"Now we can sit in bed, side-by-side, and play scrabble on our iPhones."

The Bryants, it seems, are not alone in riding the techno wave.

Recent statistics from insurance provider, Apia, have shattered the stereotype of the technophobic older Australian.

The company's report, Life Begins at 50, found that internet usage did not drop off dramatically with age, with 60% of those over 65 still regularly logging on.

The data further showed that older Australians were actively participating in mainstream activities such as shopping (71%), online banking and paying bills (71%), using Skype (40%) and even checking out MySpace or Facebook (35%).

The report - based on a poll of 2060 Australians aged 50 and over - revealed 84% of Australians over 50 thought technology was helping them to stay in touch.

Dale English is another Coast retiree smashing the stereotype.

The Aroona resident said she used the internet and her Kindle daily.

"I use it for my financial records, keeping in contact with people through email and Mr Google for just about everything," she said.

"It is just so easy.

"I just put in 'how do I do' or 'where do I find' and Google just guesses what I want and gets it right so many times."

Dale was not surprised older people were adopting new technologies.

"Well, there's not really any-where else we can get the information that's so readily available," she said.

Caboolture's Ron Hayden, 79, agreed.

"Most of us elderly people whinge about modern technology," he said.

"Then you go out for a meal with friends and we all have our mobile phones on us."

Ron said he would set aside a couple of hours each night to go online.

Most of that time was spent using Skype or Facebook to catch up with family and friends or reading UK newspapers to keep up-to-date with his home country.

Ron said he still called when something was important but otherwise he would send a quick message via Facebook.

"I enjoy new technologies and they keep me occupied," he said.


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