The elderly population in a fast growing digital world

6

December

2016

elderly_with-computers
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Digital capabilities are marked  essential for firms in order to stay alive in current society. This is not only applicable to firms, but also to human beings. Currently it is already hard for people that do not use digital technologies to stay “up to date”. This while the biggest technological growth is yet to come. Banking, public transport and governmental services are transforming from face-to-face services to do it yourself online.

The first Personal Computers (PC’s) were launched around 1980, the Internet as recently as 1996 (for private users). People born far before this era, are having trouble with the pace of the developments. New generations are learning digital skills already in primary school. As example we can look at the schools in Finland. Finnish students will no longer be taught handwriting at school, with typing lessons taking its place. “Fluent typing skills are an important national competence. The switch will be a major cultural change, but typing is more relevant to everyday life,” says Minna Harmanen from the National Board of Education. In contrast to the new generations, the older generations never had any form of educations on digital subjects. Given the rapid growth of the elderly in our population as well as the potential the Internet holds for them, this is something worth consideration (Eastman & Iyer, 2004).

What would be good for this group of people, is to set-up a program to provide them with the necessary digital skills. The government could cooperate with healthcare facilities and organizations, to reach out to elderly people. This seems to be a large expense, but it will decrease costs in the future as well. Also it will help to improve vitality of elderly people, giving them the feeling they can still contribute to society. With the growing human life expectancy in mind, this would be a good prospect for older generations.

 

References
Eastman, J. & Iyer, R. (2004). The elderly’s uses and attitudes towards the Internet. Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 21 Iss: 3, pp.208 – 220
Griffiths, S. (2016). Virtual reality training can stop the elderly from taking a tumble. Available online at : http://www.wired.co.uk/article/falling-over-vr [Last viewed on December 4th 2016)

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2 thoughts on “The elderly population in a fast growing digital world”

  1. Dear Guy, thank you for your post. I will tailor my comment a bit more to my own experience of seeing the eldery population in a digital world. First of all, I once thaught eldery how to use an iPad. While for me everything seemed logical, for them it was really important to explain it clearly and step by step. What I noticed is that they are slower with understanding it (which is logical) but also that they had trouble figuring out why certain steps had to be taken (such as filling in their password when wanting to re-access their e-mail, as it was not configured with the iPad). This left some elderly to be quite frustrated. However, when I see my grandma for example using her iPad, I am also impressed by how fast she learns and how happy she is to be using it and to stay in touch with us, her grandkids. Thus, while the pase of digital development may be too fast for most elderly, I think ‘basic’ technologies such as the iPad and PCs can offer great opportunities for elderly to stay in touch and play games.

  2. Thank you Guy for your interesting blog. I think it is a good and useful plan to help the elderly on becoming more familiar with the digitalization. I do however am sceptical about the decrease of costs in the future. I am interested in what your argumentation is behind this idea. As how I read your blog, the group of people is already retired and making a lot of costs to get them to master digital skills will be huge and I do not see how these people will reduce costs as they maybe do not master the skills on time or at all. I will help them in their daily use but on a larger scale I am very interested how they can benefit society as you say.

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