Humans and Health

In Conversation: Megan and her Nan on the evolution of technology

In the ever-growing world of technology and social media, I think it is easy to forget that it is not part of everyone’s life. Our generation is used to technology as we were brought up with it, but what about our older generation? They have had to try to adapt to technological advancements. They have seen the most significant changes, going from very little technology to living in a world where people are shouting at some woman called Alexa and taking selfies with dog ear filters.

To find out more about the difference in technology, I decided to get some first-hand info on just how far we have come and how involved our older generations are. So I interviewed my lovely 70-year-old granny Liz.

When I was in primary school (2002-2009) I remember the change over from a whiteboard to an interactive whiteboard.

What memories do you have from your primary school years in terms of technology and equipment? 

I learnt to write using a wooden shaft, which is a bit like a pencil, with a nib which we had to dip into an inkwell, then blot it with blotting paper.  The inkwells were set into the surface of the desk and had to be filled up regularly. Biro’s were just beginning to appear and by the time I got to Grammar School, all writing was done in biro.

The teacher stood at the front and wrote on the blackboard, i.e. chalk and talk.

The craze in primary school going into secondary school was MSN- a messaging platform. I remember coming home from school to see who was online out of my friends and see who I could chat with. I got my first laptop at the age of 11.

In what way would you have communicated with friends at a young age?

We just didn’t often communicate after school. We made arrangements to meet at the time. Only one family in the street where I lived had a phone. If I wanted to go for a walk, in the school holidays for instance, I would walk to their house and ask if they were coming out. There was no technology at home. We didn’t have a television until I was nine.

Later, my generation moved onto Blackberry phones and Blackberry messenger, as a teenager this was the newest way to talk to friends.

As a teenager or young adult, how would you have contacted any friends?

At 18, when I trained to be a nurse and lived in a nurses’ home, there was a shared phone in the hallway, which meant everyone could hear what you were saying. Your Granddad used to ring me to arrange to meet him.  At this point, I lost touch with some friends and developed new ones. I did write to my friend Gianna when she was in teacher training college in Hull but most of my friends from school drifted into adult life either at college or away from home.

After this, you went on to have my mother and uncle. I have fond memories of my family watching my favourite ‘Bob the Builder’ video. This viewing method quickly developed into DVDs and recently iPads and Netflix. What technology would you have had in the family home?

I got married at 19 and lived with my mother while we saved to buy a house, which we did in 1968.  We didn’t have a television or a fridge until we could save up for them.  We did have a radio and a record player. When we did rent a television at 10 shillings a week (equivalent to 50p), it only had three channels and you had to get up from where you were sitting to press the buttons to change channels.

When I did my first degree in 1992-1997 as a mature student, handwritten assignments were the acceptable method of work, although typewritten ones were becoming more acceptable and preferable.  I asked a neighbour (Wayne) to help me as I had no computer at home and typed undergraduate dissertations were essential.

Finally, what are your thoughts on technology and how it has developed? Through your lifetime you have gone through dramatic technological advances, how have you managed to keep up with these?

I do find the more recent innovation in technology quite daunting with voice-activated technology and accessibility to all sorts of information, not necessarily positive.  Although I have seen huge advances in technology in my lifetime, I think a lot of negative issues have emerged, such as online bullying and grooming of children.

I am quite comfortable using a laptop so I don’t feel the need for a smartphone, which many people now rely on. I have some friends, not necessarily older than me, who are unfamiliar and even quite scared of the internet. I think adverts on television, where they give a website address for information, cuts out a lot of older people who don’t have the facilities to access them.

Megan Bowie

 Image courtesy of starmanseries via Flickr. License here.

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Humans and HealthLifestyleScienceTechnology

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