CYRIL — A technology generation gap exists in this southwest Oklahoma town. DeLois Patterson likes reading The Oklahoman on paper, as she has done for nearly 80 years. Her son, Bill Patterson, favors his iPad.
“I much prefer to get the news through the iPad,” 77-year-old Bill Patterson said. “I've got the world at my fingertips.”
In addition to accessing The Oklahoman's iPad edition, Patterson was one of the first subscribers to The Daily, a fledgling operation that provides original news content designed specifically for the popular Apple tablet.
DeLois, 94, scoops The Oklahoman off her front porch every morning after she makes her bed and starts the coffee.
“I like to hold it and read it,” says DeLois Patterson, well-known around Cyril as “Granny Dee.” She reads much of the newspaper and usually completes the crossword puzzle. On Monday, she had finished the puzzle well before lunchtime.
She's been reading the paper regularly since she dropped out of eighth grade during the Great Depression because her family couldn't afford the stockings and books that were required of students.
“I've always been a reader,” she said. “I've probably got a thousand books around this house.”
When Bill Patterson buys a new iPad, he hopes to give his current one to his mother, who immediately dismisses the idea with a wave of her hand.
“I bossed him around for 70 years; now he bosses me around,” she said. “I will look at it, for his sake.”
Seniors heading online
Their tale reflects a growing use, particularly by seniors, of various new platforms to get and share information online.
And seniors are getting more comfortable with the Web. Another Pew Research Center study last fall showed social networking among Internet users age 50 and up had nearly doubled — from 22 percent to 42 percent — between April 2009 and May 2010.
“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” said Mary Madden, Pew senior research specialist and author of the report.
Among adults age 65 and up, 13 percent log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4 percent who did so in 2009, the report said.
One in 10 Internet users age 50 and older said they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.
From Cyril to cyberworld
Bill Patterson, who helped install a computer network in Cyril Public Schools in 1982, revels in technology. He wears a gadget around his neck that connects his iPhone to his hearing aids via Bluetooth. He thinks technology could be boon for many seniors, although he understands that many won't take the time to learn new skills.
“Us old folks, we don't change easy. We say, ‘I like change, but you go first,'” he said. “A lot of folks are set in their ways.”
Despite Bill's prompting, his mother isn't going to set aside her newspaper. But he's not giving up.
“They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But you can sure salt their oats,” he said.