How can AARP think introducing a dumb-ed down tablet for “seniors” over 50 is anything other than insulting?

 I missed the announcement when it first came out, but a week ago AARP, in collaboration with Intel, announced they are releasing a new tablet for the over 50 crowd. Here is their headline:  


and from the body of the article . . .

“AARP understands that while technology is a wonderful thing and boomers are one of the biggest consumers of personal-tech, it can still be a daunting experience for a large majority of Americans 50+,” said JoAnn Jenkins, CEO, AARP.

Is AARP Clueless?

If you are 50 years old or older you have, no doubt, been bombarded with AARP membership offers because my wife and I are both over 50 and our mailbox is chockablock full of them. They are a powerful marketing organization, without parallel when it comes to targeting the age 50+ marketplace.

I am 59 years old and spend a good share of my day on a computer and smart phone. In fact, in my house we don’t even have a landline except the one that is connected to the fax machine. My father is 86 years old, he is active on Facebook, email and owns and uses a smart phone.

Same with my mother who is 83 years old and, just a year ago, she called to tell me her wireless router quit working. I started racking my brain for someone who could come help her get a new one up and running when she stopped my verbal brainstorming dead in its tracks asking me if I thought she was too incompetent to set it up herself.

There is a ton of research out there that very clearly demonstrates that technology adoption by seniors is today real and significant. While not quite as high as for the Millennials, that likely has more to do with lifestyle and preference than ability to get it. Seriously AARP and Intel:  Look at the growing Facebook adoption rate for seniors then tell me with a straight face they need a tablet for dummies.

AARP and Ageism or Commercialism

I am assuming this is not such a risk for AARP because I am betting they don’t have cash in the game but, instead, have lent their marketing power and name to the venture with Intel shouldering the costs. There are three reasons why this is terrible:

  1. Not Dumb Just Old – My friend Lori Alford, one of the founders of Avanti Senior Living loves to quote a senior she was chatting with. Here is that quote: “I’m not dumb, I’m just old”.
  1. This is Ageism – AARP claims to be looking out for the best interests of seniors.  If there is ever an organization that should be sensitive to aging issues and Ageism it should be AARP.
  1. Destroying Prospects for Jobs – So now we know that most seniors (not sure I would even agree with that definition) . . . most people who are over age 50 are not capable of using real technology. So exactly what does this very public pronouncement do to my 60-year-old friend Dennis who is looking for a job in the technology arena? It seems obvious that if AARP thinks 50 is the top limit for technology no one should ever hire him.

AARP and Intel stop selling this thing right now. Admit it was a stupid demeaning mistake.

Steve Moran