Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
Chances are if you're easily frustrated and regularly discouraged by the failure of computers, cell phones and the Internet, you're old. That's not criticism, though. It's the results of a recent study released by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. The study, based on a survey of over 2000 U.S. adults, took an in-depth look at how people felt and reacted to problems with technology, whether it is a loss of Internet connection or a broken iPod.The study, titled "When Technology Fails" investigated the different types of help solicited for different types of breakages. Not surprisingly, young adults (18-29 years old) are significantly less likely than older adults to feel discouraged or confused about fixing devices, says the study. Meanwhile, over half (52%) of adults age 30 and older reported being discouraged, 44% said they were confused, and about two out of three (67%) said they were confident. Adults age 30-49 were somewhat less likely than older adults to be confused, as just 39% said they were. Although the study indicated that men are more likely than women to be confident about problem solving (76% vs. 68%), while women (18%) were more likely than men (12%) to consult their friends or family for help. Those with broken cell phones and failed Internet connections were more likely to consult customer support than those with computer issues, who were more likely to try fixing the problem themselves.
when technology fails

(Source: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project)

The study seems to suggest that despite the fact the technology is here to stay, we're still having growing pains. All new technology takes some getting used to. From electricity to the telephone to the computer, each new generation becomes more adept and confident at using the new technology until it's simply apart of the world as we know it. With more time, experience and familiarity, we will feel more at ease with fixing things ourselves, and our technological devices may be less prone to failure, as we learn how to use them better. Being cranky and old aren't likely to be viable excuses for long, as the "mainstream user" becomes less fearful and frustrated by changes in technology. In the meantime, while the mainstream user may become more frustrated by the old and cranky, we must remember that not only will we be old and cranky, too, but we must also learn from their user behaviors so that we can build new technology to be less intimidating and more user-friendly.