February 07, 2013

Senior Citizens Lead the Charge Toward Adoption of E-Books


There’s a public perception of senior citizens that may be a bit unfair. Those of us that are tech-savvy might imagine the typical retired person sitting on a rocking chair, talking on a rotary dial phone and yelling at the kids to “get off my lawn!” But the fact of the matter is many senior citizens use technology all the time, to e-mail their grandkids, Skype with their friends or watch their favorite shows in bittorrents.

And apparently, there is one area of technology that older people are adopting quite fast: e-books.

In the 600+ years since Gutenberg started churning out Bibles on his printing press, we’ve been reading books on chunks of dead wood. But many of us (like me) who don’t have the best eyesight know that reading off the printed page can sometimes be an ocular strain.

Enter the e-reader. In addition to being able to store thousands of titles in an object lighter than most paperbacks, e-readers are easier on the eyes.


Image via Shutterstock

In a recent study conducted by the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany (who else?), the results were, ahem, easy to see. The study shows that participants ages 21-34 showed no difference in reading time or brain activity whether reading off an e-reader screen or a printed page.

But the subjects over the age of 60 demonstrated much higher results when reading the high-contrast text on the e-readers.

The trick, of course, is to break the common notion that e-readers cause eyestrain, and to educate seniors on these findings. While many have embraced the e-book trend, others are happy to smell and feel the pages of a new hardcover.

Though if they value their eyesight, they’ll transition to e-readers.

Some of the best books of the modern age are available on e-books, and for the record, I got one for my mother for her retirement. As far as I know, she loves it. She can hold the book in one hand and wave the kids off her lawn with the other.




Edited by Braden Becker



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