Older workers are more flexible than insiders think.

By Heather Clancy
August 8, 2016

Conventional wisdom suggests that workers of a certain age find it tough, stressful even, to adopt new apps or gadgets. New data questions that truism, pointing out that those over 55 actually use more technologies on a weekly basis than those aged 18 to 34. What’s more, the research (which represents responses from about 4,100 people) suggests older workers may have an easier time adapting to tech changes than younger ones.

The online survey used to surface these findings was run by cloud software company Dropbox, and its report doesn’t disclose much about the sample so you should probably take the findings with a grain of salt. But the report definitely points up the frustration that the Instagram and Facebook generation must feel about being forced to use tech that is outmoded, like a database written in 1993 or inventory management systems rife with custom interfaces and “workarounds.”

Those of us who are older, perhaps, have just found a way to grin and bear it. Been there, done that. But clearly, we’re more open-minded than the tech industry gives us credit for. Against that backdrop, you have to wonder whether big companies worry more than they should about embracing new information technologies for fear that older workers won’t adjust to the change.

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The stereotype that younger people make for better early adopters won’t change any time soon. Much of the venture money chasing new consumer tech still focuses on the “under 30 set,” as Fortune‘s Barb Darrow reports this morning. One stark exception: a $40 million fund established last October by the AARP and J.P. Morgan Chase. Voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa, for example, could inspire a whole new wave of services for older people. Now we’re talking.

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