Baby Boomers are so busy guarding their online privacy that they may miss out on some truly great deals.

When it comes to web-based activity, Pew Research studies shows the Boomer generation  fully engages in online research and shopping.  One-third of them use social media like Facebook or LinkedIn.  But if you ask them to tell you about their whereabouts —they shout whoa!

crowdfundingThey often call texts intrusive. They don’t use Foursquare, saying it’s silly, again echoing the “I don’t want people to know where I am.”   And “push notifications?”  Forgetaboutit”

“I don’t want my phone showing me advertisements, no way,” a friend says.

I know this because I talk to Boomers and Seniors all of the time about their online habits.  I try and help them understand the positives of targeted advertising.  I explain that their web searching habits can lead algorithms to find them online shopping deals of products they actually like or want.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you were in a store and a coupon for a product you use popped up on your smartphone?” I ask.

“Well I guess so,” my sister-in-law admitted.  “But I don’t want these apps texting me everywhere.”

“Nope, no one is going to find me in a store,” a 60-year-old man told me.  “They’ll have to hunt me down to advertise to me on the Internet.  I don’t want to share my information.”

Understand Their Fears

But why?  I ask, befuddling the Boomer information guardian. Hmm..not sure the facial expressions respond. Further prodding unveils that many Boomers actually are afraid that “Big Brother” is watching them online, or that there are roving bands of hackers waiting to plunge into their back accounts through their smartphones.

While this may be true, if they use the internet and/or shop online, their personal information is no longer private.  It doesn’t make sense Millennials say, and I agree.  But Boomers perceive it to be true and we all know that perception is reality.

To understand this paranoia, one has to appreciate the Boomer’s history.  This is a generation that grew up being told by their teachers and parents that anything they did wrong would be entered into their “permanent record.”

These legendary permanent records would follow them throughout their lives, they were cautioned.  In college, they were warned that these permanent records would contain all of their “anti-establishment” activities—including anti-war protesting.  These records also would track their job performance.  No one ever mentioned if they would chart their parenting skills.

Now that we’re all past 50, we Boomers need to honestly ask ourselves, the “where are these permanent records and did they really even exist? And more importantly, why are we hanging on to behavior that was created by threats made more than 35 years ago?

Has anyone even seen their permanent record?  “Oh it’s stored in my high school,” one Boomer told me when I posed the question.   Seriously, let’s think about that.  Millions of paper records warehoused in high schools throughout America?  And what about the argument that we had them in college and at our first jobs? Where are those records stored?

Once you walk through the sheer logistics with a Boomer, he or she usually reneges and accepts the foolishness of it all. After you explain that paper records of their bank accounts, health records and tax payments are scatted about on people’s desk across the country with no safeguards, they may realize they are overreacting a bit. But it takes time.

Unlike Millennials who are more willing than any other generation to post personal information online if it means more targeted adds.  Boomers are skeptical.

In fact, a new website app called Disconnet which blocks the invisible tracking of users search and browsing history, could likely become a Boomers best friend and an advertiser’s foe.

Help Boomers Understand You’re Not Intruding

So advertisers and marketers hoping to get Boomers to share more online information with them, need to take a cue from Ricky Ricardo.  He used to say to Lucy, “you gotta lot of splanin’ to do,”

Find ways to explain and educate Boomers and you’ll be more likely to eradicate the old myths that live inside of their emotional minds so can change their mobile behavior.

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