Is One's Peak Performance Really Between 60 - 70 Years Old or is This Fake News?
A conundrum exists in the world of work. We live in a pandemic where technology skills are essential to work in a remote world, yet many digital immigrants (Gen X and boomers) lack skills.
Digital immigrants are individuals born between 1946 and 1980 and did not grow up with technology. In contrast, those born after 1980 are considered digital natives and grew up with technology.
Some Gen X and boomers may be challenged using LinkedIn, social media, Google Suite, Microsoft Office Suite, apps, applicant tracking systems for job hunting, understanding keywords, hashtags, and more.
The gap between “employment and cultural opportunities will be shaped by … [one’s] ability to understand and manage these emerging technologies” (Hasselbring et., al, 2000, p.2), and they must rise to garner digital wisdom, otherwise known as digital literacy. Being digitally competent with digital literacy creates digital learners (Creighton, 2018).
From my experience, digital learners seem to be lifelong learners who have a positive attitude towards technology and keep growing their skills.
Others have negative attitudes about technology, don’t want to learn, or have such high anxiety about technology that they have their own version of, what I will call, a meltdown.
In teaching LinkedIn workshops for the past nine years, I have had digital immigrant adults break down in tears or get frustrated that they could not manage to get their Zoom screen and LinkedIn profile up on the screen simultaneously.
I have had clients not know how to edit their resumes because they did not know how to use Word. Other clients have never used Google and don’t realize it’s easier to collaborate in a Google doc than sending drafts 1, 2, 3, etc., attachments back and forth in emails. The beautiful thing about Google docs is that it autosaves, and there is only one version.
In addition, I have clients who don’t understand that LinkedIn is a database and keywords are essential to be discoverable, not to mention the need to match keywords in a resume from job descriptions before applying online.
You need over 500 connections on LinkedIn, so networking while you maintain a career as employed, self-employed, or unemployed (and not retired) is the way to build those connections.
Here is where we reach the conundrum.
I read an article this past week titled The Most Productive Age in Human Life is Between 60-70 Years of Age, and ages 60-70 are in the boomer generation.
My question is that if many boomers don’t have technology skills, how are they being productive? What are they using to streamline their productivity?
The second most productive age, according to the article above, is 70 to 80, and the third is 50 to 60.
Individuals born between 1922 and 1945 are classified in the traditionalist generation. What are they using to streamline their productivity?
Here’s the real kicker – the article notes a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine, and when fact-checking, Snopes said that this was FALSE! That means that you can’t believe everything you read. Just because it’s on the Internet does not make it reliable.
The article’s title caught my eye because I am part of that boomer generation. While I was elated that I was apparently in the prime of my productivity, I was also skeptical about the digital immigrant research that I have done for my doctoral dissertation coupled with my own personal experience.
Aside from not believing fake news, the lesson to be learned is that everyone should become lifelong learners and keep taking workshops to improve their technology skills.
Never stop learning! Knowledge is power.
Join me every month for a free three-hour LinkedIn workshop (total 9 hours over three months) and shorter workshops on LinkedIn and on other topics at other times. You will find the list of upcoming events on the Great Careers Groups website. In addition, here’s an article with over 80 online learning platforms.
See what kinds of other technology workshops are available at your local libraries, through SCORE, and at universities so you can be called a digital learner. It’s never too late to learn!
Creighton, T. B. (2018). Digital natives, digital immigrants, digital learners: An international empirical integrative review of literature. Educational Leadership Review, 19(1), 132-140.
Hasselbring, T. S., Smith, L., Williams Glaser, C., Barron, L., Risko, V. J., Snyder, C., Rakestraw, J., and Campbell, M. (2000). Literature review: Technology to support teacher development. National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching.
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Lynne M. Williams is the Executive Director of the Great Careers Groups, a volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides career education and networking connections for 1) job seekers in career transition, including veterans, and 2) employed and self-employed for career management. She is also the President of ChemPharma.net and runs a Clubhouse session every Friday at 11 AM ET on the Thought Leadership Branding Club.
Aside from writing keyword-focused content for ATS resumes and LinkedIn profiles, Lynne is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on LinkedIn for Job Seekers. She is a contributing author on “Applying to Positions” in Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing the Job You Love along with the late Dick Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute?, and is also a speaker on career topics.