The aging of the population is a fact of life. The increase in life expectancy, shortening of working life, and early retirement are the main reasons for the growth of this sector. With the rise of new technologies, the distancing of this sector from society seems to be even wider.
It is essential to highlight that implementing new technologies in our current society means vital advantages for the elderly sector. However, they feel distanced from them. This distancing generates inequality in using and benefiting new technologies.
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Older adults and technology
As users of information and communication technologies, older adults have needs and demands similar to those of people of other ages. For example, they require helpful, functional, easy to handle, and meaningful technology. Their access to technology follows the same rules as other age groups, such as purchasing power and manageability.
According to world statistics, most computer and Internet users are between 6 and 20 years of age and were born in the telecommunications era. On the other hand, users over 60 years of age are in the minority. However, there are more and more of them, which helps to dispel the Western stereotype of this population group as it demonstrates their ability to continue learning and adapting to aging.
The elderly have to make an even greater effort than the rest of society to adapt and evolve at the same pace as technology. They must be part of the present more actively and visibly by making the most of new technologies.
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Obstacles of older adults with technology
Many older people are unaware of the usefulness of some devices and instruments that can improve their quality of life.
Complexity of use
Many elders are concerned about the complex world of technology. Many people do not dare to use these tools for fear of messing up. They think that at any time, they can touch an inappropriate key and lose all the information or even erase the contents of the hard disk.
The feeling of being out of step
According to the latest statistics, most older adults who introduce themselves to the world of new technologies tend to be between 50-55 years of age. As a result, there is a feeling of being out of step with these new tools.
Reduced economic capacity
The ability of the elderly to access the latest technology is more difficult due to the high costs involved.
Exclusion of the elderly in the consumer society
Currently, technological products are the most advertised in the mass media. However, such advertising is rarely starred by older people. Therefore, as it is a product that is not aimed at them, it generates a feeling of indifference and disinterest in these products.
Why learn to use computers and the Internet in the elderly?
As in other sectors of the population, a computer is a tool that offers older adults many benefits as a means of social and cultural interaction, entertainment, work activity, and training, among others. There is evidence that there is a negative effect of using computers and the Internet on the psychological well-being of children, adolescents, and young adults that contradicts the benefits they provide to older adults.
We have to consider that with these tools, physical space and time do not matter. So, older adults can interact, get information, buy, sell, carry out procedures and perform other activities despite having some kind of disability that prevents them from moving. With the computer, distance, schedules, weather changes, and other inconveniences resulting from their age are not a problem either.
These technologies allow the elderly to increase and improve their individual and social development and optimize their quality of life from the technical, economic, political, and cultural points of view. Intellectual activities support and increase autonomy in old age and are therefore considered protective against declining old age. Internet applications, such as e-mail and online access to information resources, provide them with particular advantages, as mastering these skills increases their self-esteem.
Nowadays, the Internet is where there is more information available to users. It is enough to click on it to find hundreds of files, libraries, or databases on various topics, which allows the elderly to stay informed, updated, and be part of a constantly evolving society without feeling marginalized.
One of the most significant benefits that the use of the computer provides for the elderly is that it helps them to overcome the fear of loneliness and isolation from their relatives. Cyberspace increases their ability to interact and their personal and social autonomy.
For these reasons, unique spaces have been created on the Internet for this age group to develop interpersonal relationships and contact with their environment. It also fosters intergenerational relationships, as the elderly discover common interests with their younger relatives, allowing them to spend many pleasant moments with them.
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Benefits of technology for elders
-Overcome prejudices: In this way, they show society that old age is not synonymous with the past and prevent them from withdrawing from social life because they feel useless.
- Improve their quality of life: Technology is also helpful for the needs they may have.
- They maintain and expand their network of relationships: The use of mobile telephony and tools such as e-mail and instant messaging, streamlining communication with others.
- Strengthen their independence: Technologies such as the Internet promote their autonomy as independent individuals. They can immediately access information on resources that can support them in their daily lives.
- Staying more active and healthier: Health is composed of the balance of the physical factor and the psychic or mental factor. Lack of mental activity explains the decline in learning capacity in old age. Several studies have shown that learning new technologies stimulates the mental activity of the elderly, reducing the incidence of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.
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