Society's Reliance on the Big 'A' - Are Apps a Generational Identifier?


When I was a kid, we didn’t have cell phones or laptops (let alone iPhones and iPads). We did have one thing – outside. Capture the flag, kickball in the street and daily unnecessary childhood shenanigans with neighborhood friends were a must. Now, I hear my ten year-old cousin complain that her iPhone and iPod lost power and, without a charger, it seems her life will inevitably end. Apple’s recent Q32012 financial results reveal yesterday – where the company boasted 26 million iPhone sales – has many thinking about the concept of the company’s technology as being so relevant to our lives that it seems to be defining generations as a whole.

A recent study conducted this April polled 2,000 individuals on mobile app attitudes and usage, revealing that 21 percent of respondents are willing to pay for apps, 29 percent use social network and recommendations to find apps, and 26 percent only download free apps and decide to stick to what they have without looking much further. The last 24 percent reported downloading an abundance of apps but remain very price-sensitive (only choosing to free versions).

That’s a lot of app downloading!

When it seemed like a smile, positive outlook, and motivation were once qualifiers for a promising individual, it now appears as if technology has quickly stepped in to assume that position. Let’s take a look at some apps that could very literally be transforming current generations and generations to come then, shall we?

Parents (Generation X – born 1966-1976)

While the majority of these folks didn’t even graduate college (29 percent obtained a B.A. or higher) it’s almost surprising to see them adapting so quickly to the app technology. While some apps are very useful for this generation, who now compile the majority of young parents (ex: baby monitor app right on your phone), there are some which are defining this parental generation in a much different way. Consider the following apps which very literally rob people of what my parents and yours did (GASP!) all by themselves.

iHomeopathy:  This app literally puts everything a parent needs at the touch of a fingertip. How to treat first-aid emergencies? Check. Childhood ailments? Check. Common illnesses Check. A review from Parents Magazine says “this is a very useful app for health/first-aid issues that come up all the time with my family and my patients! No more looking up in books. Hat you for creating a quality app!”

Hm…okay, I guess I can see how this could be beneficial.

iBearBaby: This app essentially replaces one of the most beloved things of having a baby – the baby book. Baby Brain stores unlimited data on all of your baby’s activities; doctor trips and first-time events are all captured preciously on your – er – phone, because that’s obviously where you’d like to go to reminisce on your child’s first steps and/or words.

Young Adults to Teenagers (Generation Y – born 1977-1994)

While this generation does have a very drastic gap in age, we’ve lately been seeing that 35 year-olds can act just like those who are 16 (you need only watch The Jersey Shore to figure that out). So in this respect, it’s all the same to me. This generation grew up more accepting and embracing of technology (I was born in 1990, for example, and my family got our first computer when I was six, and even then, I still often preferred using my mom’s typewriter). It seems as if we were right smack dab in the middle of the perfect technological mix.

Even more, that same recent study revealed that adults 25-24 (a.k.a. Gen Y) are most susceptible and influenced by advertisements, recalling that they even see more ads while using their mobile apps and click to see more.

MTV WatchWith: The last thing any teenager needs is MTV made portable. This app lets users browse and view videos, blogs, and their favorite MTV shows, as well as play trivia contests and see behind-the-scenes content. We all know of the controversy surrounding MTV’s evolution over the past decades, so we’ll just leave it at that.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

Interestingly enough, the baby boomer generation is known to not be as responsive to the age of the app. This “app gap” is elaborated upon in a blog posted last week, where seniors and middle-aged citizens are reasoned as simply not being interested in smartphones, not because intimidated by them.

Take away a teenager’s smart phone and he or she is likely to be completely flummoxed by reality. Now give that phone to a baby boomer and the flummoxing will be roughly equivalent, but centered upon the device. The teen can’t live without the constant phone/internet connection, and the senior is overwhelmed by the lack of human interface and unfamiliar menus,” the article quotes.

But for those who welcome the app with open arms, here are a few that they may find worthy of their attention:

Words with Friends: Some claim that the older you get, the more you want to/play Scrabble. (I won’t take this opportunity to comment on how much my baby boomer mother plays – sorry mom). This app, however, is very easy to use and maintain, and many older smartphone owners and users will likely find this app appealing.

Elder 411/911: Similar to Gen. Y, there is quite an age gap in the baby boomer age. While some may already be in retirement, some of its younger members may be or already are facing the challenge of caring for their elderly parents. This app has a number of features aimed at easing the task of caring for your elderly loved one – from exercise programs to legal advice to lectures on related topics.

It seems as if technology has taken on its own life form, transforming every walk of life at literally every age. Perhaps this will become an age-old question: “Why the infatuation and extreme reliance on apps?” As of right now, however, there remains no clear verdict other than the fact that it has made a lasting impact on society as a whole.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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TechZone360 Web Editor

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