Last weekend I experienced my 2,5 year old grandson explain my 87 year old mother how to use WhatsApp. This in itself was a challenge because he hardly speaks so he had to do it his way … the simple way. There we were, 4 generations at one table, 4 generations of tech history. A short moment I had this flash of my own over 40 years of IT history pass by.
This 2,5 year old teaching his great grandmother to use WhatsApp
My first experience with IT was at University when I had to learn computer programming using Fortran; I am talking 40 years ago! After school hours I spend time behind a machine punching holes in cards with all the program lines and all the data. At night we could run it on the computer of another university; we were lucky to have a special phone connection! The next day we sometimes spend hours going through piles of printed paper, trying to find out where that one hole was punched wrong so the program did not run. You can imagine I used the fact that I was one of the few young women in my class, to leave this assignment to one of the guys who just loved spending hours and hours working behind those machines.
Punching holes in cards to run the program at night
To the surprise of my college friends I was the one ending up in the IT industry. The first years I spend in sales, selling an employee management system on a stand alone PC: an Olivetti M24 with a 10MB (!) hard disk and 256kb RAM for about 5000 euro. They sold amazing but most people had no idea how to use it and were afraid everything would be lost. So I started giving training trying to explain how computers work, MSDos, formatting diskettes (format A … Please not C) etc. I remember one Friday afternoon in 1993 talking with the guys of our development department, about the huge changes we had seen over the past 10 years and wondering were it would take us in the next 10 … there had to be an end to this exponential growth.
Where will this exponential growth take us?
Fast forward: in 1994 we moved to Paris on an assignment and I really wanted internet at home. Remember the time you could hear your computer trying to connect to the internet over the phone? I used that time well to study French 😉
Being a mom of 2 daughters I got involved in the after school activities at the American School of Paris where 6-10 year olds were building websites. I saw these kids do things I had to try to understand what they were doing by using books like “Website Building for Dummies” … learned a lot from those kids 😅
Website Building for Dummies
In the mean time my dad had retired (at age 58!) after many years using computers in his corporate jobs. Never ever touched a computer again until he died at age 84.
Around his retirement my parents got divorced and although my mother was not really used to work with computers, she decided she needed one, took lessons, had a tech guy she could call when something went wrong. Today 30 years later, age 87, she is still doing her own email, knows how to “Google”, has her own Facebook and Insta account, plays her games, and up until recently did her own finances using her bank-app on her tablet.
But then at age 87 your daughters tell you over and over again to use WhatsApp on her phone especially so they can video call and send pictures of the grandkids and her great grandson. Over and over again they explain but it just does not happen…
I see his little finger move towards her phone and he shows his great-grandmother how to use WhatssApp
But hen this little guy, 2 years and 6 months old, hears the word WhatsApp and sees her struggle. He sits next to her and I see his little finger move towards her phone, finds the green App, finds the picture of his favourite aunt, opens her info and finds the picture she just send. He is not able to speak and get frustrated, he is just doing it the simple way so she sees what he it doing!
Bravo my grandson 👏👏👏
I wonder … I am 61 years old right now… I intend to live at least another 30 years … and I intend to stay an active member of society and of the economy: will there be a moment that my great-grandchild is explaining me what to do? I certainly hope so!
Wize Move Society, the online community for the active 50plus generation creating the future!
Working on our online community for the over 50, the Wize Move Society, I am aware that we as the elders have to stay on top of developments like in IT. We do not have to know it all but we have to be able to use it!
That is why this is part of the program we offer in the community next to all the other things that keep us active, creative and impactful members of society and the economy!
More information about the online community and registration: www.wizemove.online