Caught in the Middle: 'Technology Sandwich Generation' Stresses Over Both Kids' and Ageing Parents' Data Security and Well Being

Survey Says 31% of Respondents Find It a Burden to Help the Ageing with Technology As COVID-19 has made technology in the home increasingly the lifeblood of all connections to the outside world, more Americans worry about the data privacy of their family members and managing the technology needs of their ageing parents. When it […]


  • Survey Says 31% of Respondents Find It a Burden to Help the Ageing with Technology

    As COVID-19 has made technology in the home increasingly the lifeblood of all connections to the outside world, more Americans worry about the data privacy of their family members and managing the technology needs of their ageing parents. When it comes to kids and screen time, however, they aren’t so concerned.

    In its most recent Technology and Social Permission survey, global communications consultancy Ketchum uncovered and dubbed an especially stressed population the Technology Sandwich Generation – parents of children under 18 who also assist their own ageing parents with technology.

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    One hundred percent of survey respondents said they help their parents with technology-related matters; 70% did so in person (reported pre-COVID-19), and 31% said doing so is a burden. 

    This could indicate that this assistance takes away from precious time to enjoy family. In addition, 87% were at least somewhat worried about their parents falling victim to hackers, scammers or phishing attacks.

    “The Technology Sandwich Generation is facing a double-whammy: ensuring their children and parents are both safe and competent in using technology,” said Lisa Sullivan, partner and director, Technology, at Ketchum. 

    “Brands that are mindful of this dichotomy and opt to make technology simpler and yet more secure stand to gain a real competitive advantage.”

    This group reported being less concerned about screen time disrupting family life, the traditional worry about technology in the home. More and more embrace technology to enhance family togetherness and quality of life. 

    In the research conducted pre-COVID-19, 72% of the Technology Sandwich Generation say technology is bringing families together by enhancing the time spent with their children; furthermore, 90% agree that technology has had a positive impact on parenting. 

    Close to 8 in 10 (79%) felt better, or the same about video gaming in 2019 than they did in 2018 and 74% felt better or the same about their kids’ screen time in general.

    “Concerns about technology and family are not what you think they might be. Indeed, today’s parents are digital natives themselves who play games and value screen time. So, incorporating it into family life seems natural,” said Melissa Kinch, partner and managing director, Technology, at Ketchum. 

    “During the pandemic, the anxiety the Technology Sandwich Generation feels has likely intensified as seniors are forced to stay home and master technology for everything from healthcare and finances to grocery shopping and videoconferences with their family. Ageing parents who can’t adapt, face more isolation and possible risk.”

    The Technology Sandwich Generation also feels greater concern than the general population for family members becoming victims of tech security issues:

    • 91% feel worried for their child (compared to 88% of the general population)
    • 87% feel worried for their parents (compared to 74% of the general population)
    • 77% feel worried for a grandparent (compared to 68% of the general population)
    • 91% are at least somewhat worried about data privacy in general
    • 88% are at least somewhat worried about data security in general
    • 45% feel worse about data breaches in 2019 than they did in 2018

    In a recent report on COVID-19’s impact on technology innovation communications, Ketchum advised brands to think specifically about the following:

    • Safety is paramount. Brands that help adults keep their ageing parents safe and functional will have a huge market opportunity. Even basic education campaigns and assistance programs can be a winner for a consumer technology brand building trust with its consumers.
    • Ageism won’t fly. Brands that ignore the needs of older adults, especially as that population explodes, will face new backlash – and lose huge swaths of potential customers.
    • Data protection is top of mind. There will be more criticism and distrust of brands that don’t go above and beyond to protect data scams and privacy issues related to society’s most vulnerable senior citizens. Financial institutions, healthcare institutions, governments and others will be held to a higher standard.

    The Technology Sandwich Generation findings are part of Ketchum’s annual Social Permission and Technology Study, which delves into a wide range of issues with respect to consumer concerns about the security and privacy of personal data and how those concerns are driving behavioural change and putting brand reputation at risk. 

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    Read more about the study at

    Through its suite of products and services, Ketchum offers expert counsel on how to identify and manage reputation and communication issues related to data privacy, cybersecurity and related topics.

    For more information, visit

    About Ketchum’s Social Permission and Technology Study

    Ketchum Analytics conducted the second annual Social Permission and Technology Study, an online omnibus survey of 1,022 adults age 18+ in the United States, between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23, 2019. When necessary, the data was weighted to be nationally representative of the U.S. population as it relates to age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, education and income. The margin of error for the total sample is +/-3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

    About Ketchum

    The winner of 105 Cannes Lions and PRovoke‘s Global Creative Agency of the Year, Ketchum is the most creatively awarded firm in our industry. We’re equal parts human-centred and business-focused, empathetic and intelligent. As a global communications consultancy, we combine the deep industry and speciality expertise of boutique firms with global reach to find unexpected connections that lead to lasting relationships and work that matters. For more information on Ketchum, a part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, visit

    About Omnicom Public Relations Group

    Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.




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