The digital world is constantly evolving and changing with the entry of new and cutting-edge technologies, just as we have artificial intelligence permeating every sector of the world at the moment. However, the penetration or adoption is usually low among old people.
Several reports have revealed that most seniors are reluctant to embrace new technologies, compared to young people, and they have their reasons.
Digital Divide Among Old People
Some old adults feel technology is more controlling and dehumanizing. Other reasons include the lack of understanding and assistance to help them navigate and reap the full potential that emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, have to offer.
Technology is really not an enemy of old people. Rather, it can improve and make lives much easier for old people. The COVID-19 period proved this to be true. Out of necessity, older people got more into embracing social networks and have stuck with them since.
A World Economic Forum report in 2021 noted that about 44% of people aged 50 and older are now more comfortable with technology than they were before the pandemic.
“Using technology to connect with others across multiple forms of communication has increased since the onset of the pandemic. Many say they are using video chats (45%), texting (37%), emailing (26%), and phone (29%) more now than before the pandemic,” another report by AARP shows.
AARP further noted that while a good number of seniors have boarded the technology ship, another huge number of people are still left behind. So, how do we reduce the divide?
Bridging the Gap Between Old Adults and Technology
The right approach to bridging the gap between old adults and technology would be addressing some of the key challenges that have discouraged many from fully trying and embracing new technologies.
Offer Training and Support
While some older adults don’t try because they lack the understanding to use new technologies or tools, some are willing to learn but may need help getting started.
Having young people or dedicated organizations introduce and help older adults set up their devices, teach them how to use specific apps or features, and troubleshoot problems when they arise, would be key to breaking this barrier.
Make Tech Usable for Old People
Making tech products, including smartphones, home gadgets, etc., suitable, convenient, and usable for old adults could help them become regular users.
Some are likely to abandon devices due to the hassle involved in using them. For instance, phones with small keypads or tiny font sizes could be troublesome for old people who have eye problems.
Highlight The Benefits of Technology
Older adults may be more willing to join the tech bandwagon if they understand the benefits it can offer, especially when it comes to making life easier. Technology can help older adults stay connected with friends and family, manage their finances, access healthcare information, and learn new things.