Seniors and Mobile Devices Cruise Together

Frank B. Withrow - the Dawn Patrol

My wife and I took a cruise around Italy, Spain and Portugal this fall. We were amazed at the number of iPads, Kindles and other devices being used. There was on the ship the usual room of computers and email connections, but WIFI was also available for those who brought their own devices.

There was a cruise ship reporter who had her four-year-old daughter with her. They had been on five cruises this year. The daughter told me how she read her books on her iPad and how she wrote things on it, meaning she spoke to it about the things she saw. She showed me how she could get her favorite stories to come up on the tablet.

Port at Lisbon

Suzy was our youngest fellow passenger, but not the only one with an iPad, Kindle or other mobile communications device. I was impressed by many of our senior ladies and their skills and knowledge about these devices. As far as I could tell they used them in two ways. Before shore visits they did searches on points of interest, the history of the place and other background information. On the shore visits they took pictures and posted notes on what they were seeing. When they got back to the ship at night they shared their shore visit photos with fellow passengers. Of course, the pictures and notes would be shared with family and friends via email and social media or in person when they returned home.

I could not help wondering how the kindergarten teacher of our four-year-old friend will engage the interest of this world traveler when she starts to school.

The senior passengers were obtaining more in depth information from their mobile devices as they visited historical sites. While most cruise ships have libraries — and this ship had a good library — the Internet and WIFI gave visitors their own personal fingertip access to information. My wife took more than a thousand pictures, and we are still sorting them out.

Flamenco Dancers in Spain

Mobile devices and social media are memory enhancers for both young and old. It expands and extends lifelong learning. My rather good video camera stands in my office seldom used today because my iPad, iPod or iPhone has replaced it.

The passenger sitting next to me on the plane returning home used her Kindle to compose notes on her trip back to Washington, DC. Movies and other information flowed through touch screens to each individual seat on the airplane.

Never before has lifelong learning had the resources to provide so many rich informal learning experiences. Our challenge is how to use these resources wisely.

3 Responses

  1. What is interesting about international travel is new awareness. Before the technology was everywhere, I lived in Germany , and traveled often to France. The Benelux countries were interesting but digging up the information, say on the Maginot .Line and other bits of information was hard. While on a Fulbright to India later, we relied on our guide books, and that worked out fine but carrying the Nikon and the load of flim was a problem. Now you can use the Internet and a phone or a digital camera and learn away.

    I was able to follow Thomas Jefferson’s interest in plants in an area of Italy where we have relatives. So amazing to see how he did his research , and to be in castles that were walled in maps of the world as it was known then. There are some really interesting stories that are not in the usual travel posters, magazines or reports. Thanks Frank.
    Great story. Bonnie

  2. As a senior citizen myself, I found this post to be very encouraging, but I wonder IF there’s any correlation between affinity for mobile devices and being able to afford to go on cruises?

    • Thomas, you spotlight an interesting problem. As we struggle to make sure that all students have 24-7 access to the internet, we’re ignoring the adults who may be shut out of the e-world because of cost — and seniors are a growing segment of this population. Considering the mounting ubiquity of online information and services, mobile connectedness is becoming increasingly critical. What to do with adults who are being left behind?

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