There is a lot to gain from using the internet. More so, the world wide web has made communication across the globe lightning fast and convenient. According to the Pew Research Centre, nearly 70% of the elderly people aged over 65 years are using the internet. Their daily online activities as clearly illustrated in this infographic tell us how useful the internet is to all age groups.
Although it is good to see the majority of the elderly using the world wide web, it is also of significance to understand why the remaining 30% are missing out on the internet revolution. Perhaps, by getting to know reasons why the elderly haven’t fully adopted the internet we may be able to put measures to improve the numbers.
The infographic mentioned above briefly listed the following as the reasons why some of the elderly folks don’t go online.
- Physical challenges
- Online harassment
- Skepticisms about the internet
- Technologies challenges
- Other activities fill their time
We’ll try and expand further on each of these reasons.
Aging takes a toll on our physical abilities such as our sense of sight and cognitive abilities as well. It becomes more challenging to use devices and electronic gadgets. In the same way, the ability to adopt the world wide web among seniors in today’s society hits a snug due to physical challenges. This is especially prevalent among people aged over 80 years.
According to a fact sheet by the Pew Research Centre, 2 in 5 elderly people have physical challenges which hinder them from using technology. Only 55% of the older generation suffering from some form of disability go online. Additionally, 21% of them use a tablet, 32% use a smartphone while 36% of the disabled elderly who go online use home broadband.
Online harassment is a big issue and has even gotten into the limelight of the justice systems. Cyberbullying as it is sometimes referred to not only affects the young people but also the elderly people online. It is such a menace that it is reported that over 22% of Americans aged above 55 years have had to condone with some kind of online harassment.
People can be very sensitive to emotional harassment and would do anything to avoid similar scenarios. Therefore, such cases have negatively impacted the acceptability and adoption of the internet among seniors. Cybersecurity and justice to curb these cases of online harassment should come to the aid of our senior citizens.
Skepticisms About the Internet
Call it being conservative but some of the older non-internet users don’t really feel the need for the internet. To add to that, they argue there is nothing they are really missing out on by not using the internet. Come to think of it, they can still communicate using mobile phones, can read the newspapers for news updates and watch TV. They may have a point considering that many uses of the internet are almost non-essential.
The internet has been evolving rapidly with new gadgets being introduced into the market on a daily basis. Just recently android smartphones were running on Android 4 KitKat but now we are already on version 9 Pie in just a span of a few years.
The advancements in technology haven’t been exactly matched by our brain development meaning we have had to learn how to cope up with new technologies. That is for those of us who have time for such, the elderly are not so enthusiastic about it. Some would rather forfeit the internet entirely instead of taking time to learn to use it. It is no wonder most of the desktop computers are owned and used by the senior citizens because of the simplicity of operating them.
The internet has brought along with it a lot of positives which is why many people are striving to access it. Although there are still some elderly people who don’t fancy the internet due to the reasons mentioned above, there seems to be a rising trend in their adoption of it nonetheless. Hopefully, there will come a time when all the elderly folks have access to the world wide web.
Other Activities Fill Their Time
According to the latest data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the American Time Use Survey, seniors are also just spending more time doing other things instead of staying behind their computers and phones. These include leisure activities such as sports and travel. Primarily though, they seem to be spending a majority of leisure time watching television. Furthermore, the time spent on this particular activity shows an increasing trend as the age range goes from 45 to 54 year-olds to respondents aged 75 years and over.
This data is further supported by statistics set forth by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies. Aside from television and traveling, it appears that retirees spend the largest chunk of their time with friends and family in general. And second, to this comes the pursuit of personal hobbies. With over half of retirees enjoying good health according to MedAlertHelp, this isn’t such a huge surprise.
Is Adoption on the Horizon?
Pew Research found some interesting trends that may indicate that internet adoption by seniors may still rise. One trend, in particular, is that there is now twice the number of American seniors owning a smartphone than in 2013. Tablet ownership has increased among the elderly in the country too. While the ownership of mobile devices varies among different elderly age groups, social media use is increasing steadily. It’s still quite a small number at a mere 34% of users over 65 years of age, but the growth of any kind is still growth, after all.
And as with any technology, the more that access increases, the faster the adoption takes hold. These days, the digital world is all abuzz over “inclusive design.” This term refers to a method that aims to address equal access challenges and improve overall user experience. It is now seeing adoption and implementation on various websites and mobile apps. From color blind friendly web pages to the use of vibration APIs and voice interfaces, this shift towards user inclusion may spur internet adoption at an even faster pace among the senior population.