The Elderly And Advancements In Information Technology
For an average elderly person in India. technological advancement simply translates in to connectivity without dependency. India ranks number two in the world with 35+ million mobile internet users. According to a Google report, around 14 billion web pages were viewed by Indian mobile internet users in February 2010, but majority of these users were under 40 years of age. So where does this leave the elderly in India when compared to the rest of the world?
What The Numbers Say
Research figures from USA show that 41 per cent of the senior population does not use the internet at all, while 23 per cent do not use cell phones. But the encouraging news is that more than half of the older adults (65 years and older) are internet users with 59 per cent going online, 47 per cent having broad band connectivity and 77 per cent of them using mobile phones.
Figures from The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) show a whopping 107 million increase in mobile users between 2010 and 2011. Every month 20 million mobile users are added, with more than 65 per cent of the population subscribing to the internet. Internet and Mobile Association of India (1MAI) has reported the internet user base at 190 million in June 2013 and a phenomenal jump to 205 million by October 2014. Seniors form a large segment of this figure, learning to cope with technological advancements in their daily living.
Taking Big Steps Forward
Coping with technology is tough. Our elders have navigated through the full array of devices from the cassette player to walkman, vinyl records to tapes to CD’s for information and now the thumb drive’ Are they absorbing it all, taking it in their stride, or just too bewildered? Resilient seniors with the help of NGO’s and youngsters and the inter-generational bonding are out to explore the world of information technology.
Google has become synonymous with information and learning. Once initiated, addiction sets in and the elderly search for and find ways of learning online. Team Coco has come out with ‘Senior Tech Lessons,’ to demystify y tasks like taking a ‘selfie,’ or going on Instagram for the curious elderly people.
A personal computer, a tablet, an iPad or a smart phone is loaded with immense potential and tun for the lonely elderly people, provided the initial nvestment in an online device and connectivity cost is assured. What comes naturally to youngsters is a long process of learning for the elderly, but when things go awry, it is not fun, it’s sheer frustration.
Overcoming Technical Handicaps
The ability to enlarge fonts and the swipe feature on the tablets and iPads is a boon for the elderly. Arthritic hands can now swipe, flip and navigate on their own. Once the daunting aspect of technology is overcome, homebound elders find solace in using technology. It helps them connect and socialize through email, Facebook, WhatsApp, Senior Blogging groups, and a whole range of social networking platforms. Devices used vary, based on financial investment.
The Boon Of Twitter
Talking about the positive aspects of communicating for a homebound elderly person, Twitter is just amazing! The simple joy of conveying thoughts and getting them out of your system without the need to rely on another human being is very powerful. With choosing one’s interests and joining discussions, there is no looking back, no waiting to be opened and accepted.
The elderly simply voice their opinion, be it performance, justice, tax money, government, governance, you name it and there are communities out there, a world full of people, eager to connect, argue, and comment, all without leaving the comfort of home!
In 140 characters or less, Twitter lets you get your opinion oft your chest, without any discrimination with regard to age, profession or social status. According to sociallystacked.com there has been a 79 per cent increase in Twitter usage in the age group of 55 to 64, since 2013. Keeping youngsters away from social media may be beneficial, but for a homebound senior person it is a panacea for all ills.
Benefits Of Being Connected
For the elderly aged 60 and above, getting hooked onto the internet provides a means of connecting to the world, at one’s own time and pace. With constant cognitive stimulation and lifelong learning, the elders reach out to form their own support groups with likeminded people, where geographic location, time and space boundaries are no longer an issue. It’s similar to having an agreeable spouse around, with the promise of never a dull moment’