3 Tech Trends To Close The Generation Gap
The supposed “generation war” being waged between millennials and baby boomers appears to stem from an inability of the two generations to easily communicate and understand one another. Millennials, often described as lazy and entitled, and boomers, described as old fashioned and unwelcoming of new technology, are stereotypes that are thankfully fading away.
Both generations have embraced technology into their daily lives in different ways. But that same technology can help foster a greater connection and deeper understanding across the age spectrum, which is particularly important given the current coronavirus outbreak and the challenges it brings in connecting with others while also maintaining necessary physical distance.
Here are three technology trends that are popular with boomers and millennials alike and can help close the communication gap between generations.
1. Voice assistance. Voice assist technology allows the user to intuitively control devices, including smartphones and smart appliances, with their voice. Both generations rely on voice assistants to do a wide range of tasks that improve their daily lives. For example, both millennials and seniors can use their voice to control the thermostat remotely, make phone calls, turn on the news, or order meals and groceries. The days of a senior parent struggling to learn how to use a new phone to text or video chat are fading fast, as more boomer parents learn to use voice assist technology to easily send a text or call their millennial children. While some seniors may face technology challenges related to visual impairments, physical limitations, or limited dexterity, voice assistance technology is helping close the communication gap between generations by eliminating many of these obstacles that would prevent older adults from taking advantage of new technology.
2. Virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) is often thought of as technology for the younger generation because it’s historically been linked to videogames; however, it’s becoming accessible to people of all ages. For seniors, VR provides new opportunities for fun and meaningful experiences without leaving the comfort and safety of living environment. For example, they can engage with interactive games, scenic escapes, virtual travel, or guided exercise videos. Virtual experiences can also be customized with family photo albums and videos. VR can be used in group settings—both in-person and remotely—promoting socialization. While it’s not meant to replace in-person interactions, VR can provide opportunities for more shared activities when physical visits are not possible and enables all generations to connect and have shared experiences without physical or mobility limitations.
3. Wearables. Wearable technology is popular because the devices are easy to use and provide many features including health monitoring and safety benefits. Smart watches, for example, are a popular wearable that provide fall detection, heart monitoring, and body temperature readings—all while being a trendy accessory that people of all ages choose to use. Wearables can also help adult children and caregivers stay connected to and monitor the well-being of their parents without being intrusive, giving them peace of mind when in-person visits are not feasible.
These three trends are just a few examples of how increasing accessibility of technology is helping to connect people of all generations.
Stephanie Truong, AIA, is an associate and architect in the senior living studio at SmithGroup (San Francisco). She can be reached at email@example.com.