With constant developments in smart home technology, such as the fingerprint padlocks and ten-second toothbrushes seen at this year's CES (opens in new tab), it can be easy to feel like new technology is leaving you behind. However, a new nationwide survey (opens in new tab) from the AARP has found that over 50s are increasingly embracing technology and the benefits it can bring to their lives.
According to the AARP, "for many devices, adoption among adults ages 50 and older is comparable to younger generations. Adults ages 50 and older are adopting smartphones, wearables, smart speakers, and smart home technology at nearly the same rate as adults ages 18–49."
In fact, in some areas older Americans are buying tech faster than younger generations, with more than half of adults ages 50 and older owning a tablet.
Older Americans are fueling demand for smart home security
Whilst just 10 percent of older Americans are using the best home security systems (opens in new tab) currently, many are interested in starting. In particular, 59% would be interested in buying the best video doorbells (opens in new tab) to see who is at the front door. However, with recent scandals such as Ring sharing personal data (opens in new tab) with Facebook, only about 10% are very confident that their interactions with any smart home technology will be kept private.
Among other growing smart home markets with over 50s, 42% are interested in buying tech to help automatically shut off appliances, and 38% would like to buy the best medical alert systems (opens in new tab) to help maintain independence as they get older.
The rise of smartphones and voice assistants
The AARP survey found that more than 80% of Americans age 50 to 64 have smartphones in 2020, which is a huge rise from 2014, when only half of adults over 50 owned one. This narrows the generational gap with younger Americans, but the survey also found that older generations are less likely to use their smartphone on a daily basis, and when they do, they're less likely to take full advantage of their smartphone's features, instead predominantly checking emails, looking for directions or searching the internet.
There's also a rise in the popularity of home assistants, with ownership rising from 4% in 2017 to 17% today. Most find these devices helpful, with 40 percent of respondents saying that they would be interested in using this technology to remind them to take medicine. Smart assistants also offer the chance of interaction, an appeal for some users, with a recent report finding that 54% of Americans (opens in new tab) say "please" to their smart speaker.