(Video) How Do You Explain Tinder to a 91 Year Old?

I love Social Media Week, and had a blast last year moderating the Ketchum Digital panel featuring six High School students who explained their social media habits, which gave the audience insights into the trends of tomorrow. So when brainstorming about how to build on that this year, I was most enthusiastic about my colleague Katie Illera’s suggestion to host a panel of multiple generations to talk about technology usage—and it could not have been more fun.

So, we rounded up six generations of people with completely different lifestyles and perceptions of technology to answer our questions. From ages 18—91, we dove deep into what they like and don’t like—and compared how those tastes varied across generations (click to tweet).

The panelist breakdown:

  • Ellen (18 Years Old): “The HighSchooler”
  • Alex (21 Years Old): “The College Student”
  • Max (25 Years Old): “The Young Professional”
  • Kate (34 Years Old): “The Busy Mom”
  • Jim (61 Years Old): “The Experienced Professional”
  • Evelyn (91 Years Old): “The Retiree”

Here My Top 3 Takeaways from the panel discussion:

1. Create Cool Content Not Annoying Ads
It’s the year 2015 and I am amazed that this is still a relevant takeaway. For some reason, brands continue to create ads that annoy people. Evelyn said, “You know what I do when I see an ad?  I find the ‘X’ and I click it.” When I asked the panelists the most memorable thing they’ve seen a company do, their answers were all about engaging content.
IMPACT:  Stop Making Annoying Ads and start selling through content.

2. Privacy Is Critical
Every panelist was really concerned about privacy, but for very different reasons. The Busy Mom was concerned about posting her kids photos online while The College Student was concerned about her peers sharing for validation. The Young Professional remembered when his parents forced him to be friends with them so that they could monitor what was going on.
IMPACT:  Privacy isn’t just for adults. All ages are aware and thinking about it.

3. Technology Should Save Us Time
One of my favorite moments came at the very end where The Retiree warned us all that technology is taking over our lives. I loved what The Busy Mom said about using a grocery-shopping app so that she can spend more quality time with her children.
IMPACT:  If you’re designing technology, your goal should be to free up people to spend time with those they love.

Ben Foster is SVP Digital Strategist in Chicago and an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University. He loves surfacing technology news and geek culture on Twitter @benphoster. He has seen 67 Phish shows, caught three foul balls at baseball games, and plays a frost mage named Killosaurus in World of Warcraft.