The Importance of Getting Older People Online

By Sandra Quinn

Today’s world is getting increasingly more digital and things like sending letters, physically queueing up to get a form stamped and paying for major services in person with cash have all largely become things of the past, as businesses and Government agencies seek to streamline their operations and move towards further automation.

In this context, it is now more important than ever for older people to get online and get more comfortable with technology.

As emigration statistics rose in line with the economic collapse, more and more young people were forced to move away from home for work.

As a result of this, many parents, grandparents and older relatives, out of necessity had to become familiar with things like Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, Viber and other messaging services. At the same time, a boost in Wifi needs was also seen, as many older households suddenly had an increased need for reliable and fast internet use, which they didn’t have before. Likewise, a number of smart phones and tablets were gifted as presents.

While this was a great way to introduce older people to technology and they were more than happy to talk to their family online via video chat, this didn’t mean that they were happy to do their banking online, set up online billing or get more comfortable with emailing.

According to researchers, here are some of the challenges faced by older people using technology;

  • Technology changes so quickly that they sometimes feel like once they have gotten to grips with something, it has changed.
  • They struggle to see the benefits of using technology.
  • For those who don’t own a smart phone, starting to use a tablet can seem very daunting.

Here are some of the ways to encourage older people to use technology more in their daily lives;

  • Introduce them to technology in a way that is easy for them to understand, don’t introduce too many things at once and explain things while appreciating their point of view.
  • For those with poor eyesight who might find it hard to read a traditional newspaper, they could read the news online and increase the size of the font to make reading easier.
  • Similarly, for those who miss watching older television programmes no longer aired, they can use apps to watch these online.
  • Doing things like quizzes, brain teasers, Sudoku, crosswords and word searches online will also help with their memory and brain function.
  • Touch screen tablets have proven easier to navigate than computers and try to ensure that apps they will use are installed and are easy to access.
  • For those with mobility or health issues, technology can bring them closer to friends and family, offering ways to keep connected with loved ones on a regular basis.