Technology can have several benefits for both the elderly individuals themselves and their loved ones. Here are some reasons why technology can be beneficial:
- Communication: Technology allows older individuals to stay connected with their loved ones, regardless of distance. They can use tools like video calls, emails, or social media to communicate, reducing feelings of isolation and promoting social connections.
- Information and Learning: Technology provides easy access to a vast amount of information and resources. Older people can engage in online courses, access news, read books, or explore various topics of interest, promoting lifelong learning and mental stimulation.
- Health and Safety: Technology can assist in monitoring health and safety. Wearable devices, home monitoring systems, or medical alert systems can provide peace of mind to older adults and their loved ones, enabling prompt response in an emergency.
- Entertainment and Recreation: Various technological devices and applications offer entertainment options such as streaming services, games, music, and hobbies. These can enhance the quality of life and provide enjoyable experiences for older individuals.
- Independence and Convenience: Technology can support older adults in managing daily tasks and maintaining independence. Online shopping, banking, transportation apps, and smart home devices can simplify various activities and enhance convenience.
- Connect with Society: Many older adults live far from their relatives, and visits from them may take a long time. Families can keep in touch practically daily using telecommunications apps like WhatsApp. Digital literacy has been one reliable strategy to stay in touch and protect older adults during the pandemic.
While many older adults currently lack the necessary technological expertise to thrive in a society increasingly reliant on technology, it’s important to dispel the misconception that they are incapable of learning. In fact, older adults have played a significant role in creating many modern technologies, including computers and the Internet. As the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital literacy for both professional and daily activities, older adults have demonstrated their ability to acquire new skills by using tailored learning platforms. This presents an opportune moment to introduce technology to the entire ageing population, recognising their capacity to adapt and benefit from it.
It is important to note that while technology offers numerous advantages, some older individuals may face challenges in adopting and using it. Providing patient guidance, training, and ongoing support can help them overcome barriers and fully enjoy the benefits of technology.
Don’t worry about Jargon – if you find something you don’t understand, look it up in the detailed Glossary at the End.
What is ICT?
ICT stands for “Information and Communications Technology.” It’s a broad term encompassing technologies and systems that store, transmit, retrieve, and manipulate information. It includes various forms of communication, such as telephone networks, Internet services, wireless communication, and computer systems.
The field of ICT covers a wide range of technologies and applications, including hardware devices (such as computers, smartphones, and tablets), software applications, networking infrastructure, Internet services, and digital communication tools. It also includes the management and processing of information, data storage and retrieval, cybersecurity, and the use of digital platforms and services.
ICT plays a fundamental role in modern society, enabling individuals (including you!), businesses, and organisations to access, share, and use information effectively. It has transformed various aspects of our lives, from communication and entertainment to education, healthcare, business operations, and government services. In short, ICT has become an essential tool for innovation, productivity, and connectivity in the digital age.
Getting Started with Technology
Getting started with technology can vary depending on the individual’s familiarity and comfort level with technology. Here are some general steps to help older individuals to begin using technology:
- Choose the right device: Consider the needs and preferences of the older adult. Smartphones, tablets, or computers can be suitable options. Assess factors like screen size, ease of use, and accessibility features.
- Set up the device: Assist with the initial device setup, including connecting to Wi-Fi, creating accounts, and personalising settings. Familiarise the older adult with basic functions like navigating menus, adjusting volume, and managing notifications.
- Start with simple tasks: Begin with basic tasks to build confidence. Teach how to make and answer calls, send text messages, or use messaging apps. Show them how to take photos, browse the Internet and use search engines to find information.
- Introduce communication tools: Older adults must know how to use video calling apps like FaceTime or WhatsApp to stay connected with family and friends. Help them set up email accounts and explain how to compose and reply to emails.
- Demonstrate online safety: Educate about online safety practices, such as creating strong passwords, being cautious with sharing personal information, and avoiding suspicious links or emails. Emphasise the importance of keeping devices and software updated.
- Explore helpful apps: Introduce apps and websites relevant to their interests and needs. This could include news apps, social media platforms, online shopping, or apps for health and fitness.
- Provide ongoing support: Be patient and offer ongoing support as they continue to explore and learn. Encourage them to ask questions and address any concerns or difficulties they may encounter.
Remember that everyone learns at their own pace, so patience and encouragement are key. It can also be helpful to involve other family members or friends who can provide additional support and guidance throughout the learning process.
Picture Credit: “Woman Blogging in the Studio, after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot” by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Simple tips for choosing a phone and computer, as well as finding setup help and IT support, include:
Choosing a Phone:
- Consider the operating system: The two main options are iOS (iPhone) and Android. Both have their strengths, so the choice is based on personal preferences and familiarity.
- Look for user-friendly features: Consider a phone with a clear interface, large icons, accessibility options, and easy-to-use navigation.
- Screen size: Opt for a screen size that is comfortable to read and interact with based on personal preference and visual capabilities.
- Check for compatibility with hearing aids or other accessibility devices if needed.
- Research customer reviews and ratings to gauge user experiences and reliability.
Selecting a Computer:
- Determine your needs: Consider what tasks you’ll be using the computer for (e.g., web browsing, email, word processing, multimedia, etc.) to determine the appropriate specifications.
- Choose the operating system: The main options are Windows, macOS (Apple), and Chrome OS. Consider your familiarity, software compatibility, and specific needs for each operating system.
- Consider the form factor: Decide between a desktop, laptop, or tablet based on portability and usage requirements.
- Check for accessibility features: Look for options like high contrast display, magnifier, voice control, or keyboard shortcuts based on individual needs.
Setup Help and IT Support:
- Retailers and Manufacturers: Many retailers (such as Apple, Samsung, or Microsoft) offer setup assistance and support services when purchasing devices from them. They can provide initial setup guidance and answer questions.
- Online Resources: Manufacturer websites often have online tutorials, user guides, and FAQs to help with setup and troubleshooting.
- Local Community Centres: Check with local libraries, senior centres, or community organisations, as they may offer technology training programs or support groups.
- IT Support Services: Consider hiring professional IT support services or technicians who can assist with device setup, troubleshooting, or ongoing support. Look for local IT companies or individuals with experience in helping older adults.
- Family and Friends: Reach out to tech-savvy family members or friends who can provide setup assistance, guidance, and ongoing support.
Remember, seeking support from knowledgeable individuals or professionals can be immensely helpful in ensuring a smooth setup and continued enjoyment of technology.
Fostering Digital Literacy for Older Adults
The rise of Internet communications technology (ICT) has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, many senior citizens face difficulties in navigating the Internet, leading them to fall behind in terms of ICT competencies as technology continues to advance.
Most people would agree that senior citizens encounter various challenges online, including accessibility barriers, exposure to harmful misinformation, and increasingly sophisticated scams. To create a more equitable digital world, it is crucial to prioritise the development of digital literacy among older adults.
The Importance of Digital Literacy for Senior Citizens
While Internet usage continues to grow, elderly individuals often face significant hurdles when it comes to adopting new technology. A report from Age UK, the UK-based charity for senior citizens, reveals that approximately 3.4 million individuals aged 65 and older have never used the Internet.
Meanwhile, the world is becoming increasingly reliant on Internet-enabled technologies, making it essential for senior citizens to acquire digital literacy skills to navigate the online realm effectively.
Reasons for Technological Challenges Among Elderly Individuals
There are several factors contributing to the struggles that senior citizens face with technology. Advancing technologies can be confusing and challenging to adopt, while accessibility issues can hinder seniors’ ability to view, comprehend, or interact with online content.
Socioeconomic barriers, such as high broadband costs and limited infrastructure, prevent many people from accessing the Internet. Moreover, some elders choose not to use the Internet simply because they lack interest or a reason to do so.
A survey conducted by Age UK revealed the following reasons why elderly individuals opt not to engage with digital technologies:
- 54 per cent of participants lack a computer or ICT-enabled device.
- 46 per cent of participants are not interested in or do not see a need to use the Internet.
- 41 per cent of participants are uncertain about how to use the Internet.
- 34 per cent of participants expressed concerns about scams.
- 31 per cent of participants find it challenging to keep up with technology.
Benefits of Digital Literacy for Senior Citizens
As the population of senior citizens grows, digital skills become increasingly important for everyday life. Over 80 per cent of middle-skill jobs now require digital proficiency. In 2021, there were approximately 4.66 billion active Internet users globally, accounting for 59.5 per cent of the world’s population.
By developing digital literacy, senior citizens can fully participate in the digital world and access valuable opportunities available through the Internet. The benefits of digital literacy for senior citizens are extensive:
- Social Connection: Digital literacy allows seniors to connect with loved ones through social media, video calling, and other technologies, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Continued Independence: Technology empowers senior citizens to maintain their independence by using personal monitoring devices to call for help or alert their families when needed.
- Participation in Key Activities: Developing digital skills enables seniors to manage finances, shop online, communicate via email and social media, and engage in various daily activities taking place online.
- Access to Benefits and Services: Government agencies and public service providers offer numerous benefits and services online, and digital skills enable seniors to access and apply for these services more easily.
- Leisure and Entertainment Options: The digital world offers an abundance of entertainment options, including streaming services, online games, and other leisure activities that can enhance the quality of life for seniors.
Consequences of Digital Exclusion for Senior Citizens
While digital inclusion can bring significant benefits to seniors, digital exclusion can have adverse effects. Senior citizens lacking digital literacy skills may miss out on valuable opportunities, encounter difficulties when using the Internet, and face unique dangers.
- Online Scams: Elderly individuals often fall victim to online scams, resulting in substantial financial losses. Sophisticated scams are increasingly difficult to detect, and without digital literacy skills and awareness about these schemes, senior citizens can suffer significant monetary losses.
- Misinformation: Digital literacy teaches individuals how to recognise reputable content from false information online. However, it can be challenging for seniors to differentiate between reliable and misleading sources. Studies have shown that older adults are more susceptible to online misinformation.
- Difficulties in the Workplace: Not all senior citizens retire at a certain age, and many continue working. However, digital skills and proficiency are increasingly demanded in the workplace. Seniors lacking these skills may struggle to keep up with digital tools and tasks, causing frustration for themselves and their colleagues. This technological divide can lead to challenges and stratification in the workplace.
- Loneliness and Isolation: Digital technologies offer opportunities for communication and connection. Without access to social media, video calling software, or smartphones and tablets, senior citizens can experience extreme loneliness and isolation. Social isolation has been linked to poorer cognitive function and an increased risk of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, and depression.
Book recommendations that can help older individuals learn technology include:
- My iPad for Seniors by Michael Miller, published by Que Publishing 2022. This book provides step-by-step instructions and guidance specifically tailored to older adults who want to learn how to use an iPad effectively. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seniors-Covers-iPads-running-iPadOS-dp-0137556276/dp/0137556276/
- Computers for Seniors for Dummies by Nancy C. Muir, published 2017. This popular For Dummies series book offers a user-friendly approach to learning computer basics, covering topics like navigating Windows, using email, browsing the Internet, and staying safe online. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Computers-Seniors-Dummies-Computer-Tech/dp/1119420318/
- iPhone for Seniors for Dummies by Dwight Spivey published 2022. This book is designed for older adults who want to learn how to use an iPhone. It covers the essentials, such as making calls, sending messages, using apps, and accessing various features. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dwight-Spivey/e/B001IXMUYW
- Laptops for Seniors in easy steps, 7th edition, for all laptops with Windows 10 Paperback – Illustrated, published by In Easy Steps 2019. This book is a beginner’s guide to using laptops and covers topics like setting up a laptop, connecting to the Internet, using email and social media, managing files, and more. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laptops-Seniors-easy-steps-7th/dp/1840788429/
- Windows 10 for Seniors for Dummies by Peter Weverka, published 2018. This book focuses on helping older adults understand and navigate Windows 10. It covers topics such as using the desktop, customising settings, managing files and folders, and staying secure online. If you’re interested in learning the basics of this operating system without digging through confusing computer jargon, look no further. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Windows-Seniors-Dummies-Peter-Weverka/dp/1119469856/
- Android Smartphones Seniors Guide: A Step-by-Step Manual for the Non-Tech-Savvy to Master Your Brand New Smartphone in 3 Hours or Less, Paperback, by John Halbert (Author) 6 Feb. 2023, Independently published, available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BTRYB3WJ/
These books provide clear explanations, visuals, and step-by-step instructions to help older individuals learn technology at their own pace. Remember, it can be helpful to choose a book that matches the specific device or operating system the individual is using.
Picture Credit: “Closeup view of Old-fashioned clock in a woman in background working on a laptop at home.” (sic) by shixart1985 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Glossary of Commonly Used Terms
The following Glossary of commonly used terms related to mobile phones and computers, is explained in non-technical and simplified language for older individuals. It may help de-mystify some of the technical terms bandied about these days. Remember, it’s OK to take your time to understand these terms and concepts. It’s perfectly OK to ask for help or further explanation whenever needed, either from an IT specialist, the shop where you bought your device, a family friend or other people about the same age as yourself.
The goal of this paper is to make technology more accessible and understandable for older adults. Remember that these definitions should help with a basic understanding of the terms related to mobile phones and computers, but the explanations are simplified and may not cover all technical details, although they aim to provide a user-friendly introduction to the concepts.
- Airplane Mode: A setting on your phone or tablet that turns off all wireless connections, including calls, texts, and Internet access. It’s useful when flying or in areas with restricted wireless use.
- App Store/Play Store: An online store where you can download and install apps on your phone or tablet. It’s like a shop for getting new programs for your device.
- App: Short for “application.” It’s a small program you can download to your phone to perform different tasks, such as playing games, checking the weather, or reading the news.
- Backup: Making a copy or duplicate of your important files, documents, or data to an external storage device or cloud storage. It safeguards your data and files in case your device gets lost, stolen, damaged, or experiences data loss.
- Bluetooth: A wireless technology that allows devices to connect and share information with each other. It’s commonly used for connecting headphones, speakers, or other accessories to your phone or computer.
- Bookmark: A saved link to a website that you frequently visit or want to remember. It’s like marking a page in a book for easy reference.
- Browse: To search for something on the Internet using a Browser.
- Browser History: A list of websites that you have visited in the past. It allows you to revisit websites you’ve previously viewed without needing to remember their addresses.
- Browser: An application on your phone or computer that allows you to search and visit websites online. It’s a bit like going to a library. Examples of browsers are AVG Secure Browser, Google Chrome, Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Apple Safari. Browsers interpret (read) the software code of web pages (hidden from your view) and render them in a readable format so you can understand the information provided.
- Call: Using your phone to have a conversation with someone else. You can hear their voice, and they can hear yours. See video call.
- Camera Roll/Gallery: The collection of photos and videos stored on your phone or computer. It’s like your personal photo album or gallery.
- Camera: A feature on your phone that allows you to take pictures or videos. You can capture special moments and save them digitally.
- Charger: A device used to recharge the battery of your phone or computer.
- Contacts: A list of people’s names and phone numbers that you save in your phone for easy access when you want to call or message them.
- Copy and Paste: The action of duplicating text or content from one location in whatever you are writing and inserting it into another. It’s like photocopying a document and pasting it onto a new page.
- Cut and Paste: The combined action of cutting (removing) selected content from one location and pasting it into another. It allows you to move content between documents, emails, or applications.
- Cut: The action of removing selected content from one location and placing it in the clipboard. It’s like removing a block of text or an image to be moved or placed elsewhere.
- Device: A general term referring to a physical electronic gadget, such as a smartphone, computer, tablet, or any other tech tool you use.
- Download: The process of transferring files, such as apps, documents, or pictures, from the Internet to your phone or computer. It’s like saving a file from the Internet onto your device.
- Email Address: A unique identifier used for sending and receiving electronic mail (email). It consists of a username, followed by the “@” symbol, and then the domain name. For example, email@example.com
- Email Attachment: A file, such as a photo or a document, that you can include with an email message to send to someone.
- Email: Electronic mail allows you to send and receive messages over the Internet. It’s like sending a letter, but it’s delivered instantly and digitally.
- Emoji Keyboard: A keyboard layout or option that allows you to easily access and insert emojis in your text messages or social media posts.
- Emoji: Small digital icons or symbols representing emotions, objects, or ideas. They are used in text messages or social media to add visual expressions to your words.
- Face Recognition: A technology that uses facial features to identify or authenticate individuals. It can be used to unlock devices, access certain applications, or provide additional security measures.
- Fingerprint Recognition: A technology that uses unique patterns in a person’s fingerprints to verify their identity. It is commonly used as a security feature on mobile phones and computers to unlock devices or authorise certain actions. By scanning and analyzing the ridges and valleys of a person’s fingerprint, the system can match it against stored fingerprint data to grant access or perform specific functions. Fingerprint recognition provides a convenient and secure authentication method, as each person’s fingerprints are distinct and difficult to replicate.
- Home Screen: The main screen on your phone or computer that appears when you turn it on. It displays shortcuts to apps, widgets, and other functions.
- Internet Browser: A program on your phone or computer that allows you to search and visit websites. It’s like a virtual library where you can access information from all around the world.
- Internet: A global network of computers that allows you to access information, websites, and online services. It enables you to browse the web, send emails, stream videos, and connect with others online.
- Login: The process of accessing your device or an online account by providing your username or email address and password. It verifies your identity and allows you access to the device or account.
- Logout/Sign Out: The action of exiting or logging out of an app, website, or account to ensure that your information remains safe and secure.
- Mobile Phone/Cell Phone: A portable device that allows you to make phone calls, send text messages, and access the Internet wirelessly.
- Mouse: A pointing device used to navigate and interact with a computer. It typically has buttons and a scrolling wheel, allowing you to move the cursor on the screen and click on objects or perform actions.
- Notification: A small message or alert that appears on your phone or computer to inform you about new messages, updates, or events.
- Password Manager: A tool or app that securely stores and manages your passwords for different websites and accounts. It helps you remember your passwords and keep them safe.
- Password/PIN: A secret word or code that you create to protect your device, apps, or accounts from unauthorised access. It’s important to choose a unique and memorable password to keep your information secure. It’s like a key to unlock your device so you can use it.
- Paste: The action of inserting content from the clipboard (a temporary storage area) to a specific location. It allows you to place text, images, or other data in a document, email, or another application.
- Power Leads for Apple Devices: Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, use proprietary power leads for charging and connecting to power sources. The power lead typically consists of a USB cable with a Lightning connector at one end. The Lightning connector is a small, reversible connector developed by Apple specifically for their devices. It allows you to charge your Apple devices by connecting them to a power adapter, a computer’s USB port, or other compatible charging devices. The power leads for Apple devices are designed to provide reliable power supply and data transfer capabilities for Apple products. From 2022, Apple devices like iPhones and iPads now come with a newer USB‑C to Lightning cable that supports fast charging and is compatible with USB‑C power adapters and computer ports that you may already have. You can use either a USB-A to Lightning cable or the newer USB-C to Lightning cable with your iPhone.
- Program: A software application or piece of software that performs specific tasks on your device. Examples include word processors, web browsers, games, and photo editors.
- Screensaver: Screensavers are not as commonly used today as they were in the past. Originally, screensavers were designed to prevent “burn-in” on older monitor screens, where static images displayed for long periods could leave a permanent ghost image on the screen. However, with the widespread use of LCD and LED monitors, which are not susceptible to burn-in, the need for screensavers has diminished. Additionally, modern operating systems and devices often include power-saving features that automatically turn off the display or put it into a low-power mode when not in use. These features help conserve energy and extend the lifespan of the display.
- Service Provider: A company or organisation that offers Internet connectivity or other services to individuals or businesses. They provide access to the Internet, mobile networks, email hosting, and other telecommunications services.
- Settings: The place on your phone or computer where you can customise various options and preferences, such as adjusting the volume, changing the wallpaper, adjusting privacy settings or connecting to Wi-Fi.
- Shortcut: A quick way to access a file, folder, application, or specific feature on your device. It’s like a direct link or a convenient way to reach something without navigating through multiple steps.
- Smartphone: A type of mobile phone that offers advanced features such as Internet access, email, apps, and a touchscreen interface.
- Social Media: Websites or apps that allow you to connect and communicate with friends and family, share photos, and follow the latest news and trends. Examples include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Software Update: An update or upgrade to the operating system or applications on your phone or computer. It includes bug fixes, security enhancements, and new features. Keeping your software up to date ensures optimal performance and security.
- Storage: The capacity or space available on your device to store files, documents, photos, videos, and other data. It’s like the memory or hard drive of your device.
- Tablet: A portable computing device that is larger than a smartphone but smaller than a laptop. It usually has a touchscreen interface and is designed for browsing the Internet, reading e-books, watching videos, and running apps.
- Text Message/SMS: A short written message sent from one mobile phone to another. It’s like sending a written note without using paper.
- Texting: Sending written messages to others using your phone. It’s like writing a letter, but you use your phone’s keyboard or touchscreen instead of pen and paper.
- Texts: Short messages or SMS (Short Message Service) sent from one phone to another. They are typically used for quick communication and can contain text, emojis, or images.
- Touchscreen: A display on your phone or tablet that allows you to interact by tapping or swiping your finger on the screen. It’s like using your finger as a mouse or pointing device.
- Upload: The process of transferring files from your phone or computer to the Internet or another device. It’s like sending a file or photo to someone through email.
- USB: An acronym for Universal Serial Bus. USB is a widely used standard for connecting and transferring data between electronic devices. It provides a common interface for connecting peripherals such as keyboards, mice, printers, external hard drives, and webcams to computers and other devices. USB allows for easy plug-and-play functionality, meaning you can connect and disconnect devices without restarting your computer. It also supports fast data transfer rates, making it convenient for transferring files between devices.
- Video Call: A communication method that allows you to have a live video conversation with someone using your device and an Internet connection. It’s like making a phone call, but with video and audio.
- Video Conferencing: A communication method that enables real-time video and audio interactions between multiple participants in different locations. It allows people to have virtual meetings, discussions, or conversations using their devices and an Internet connection.
- Virus Protection: Software or applications designed to protect your device from malicious programs or software known as viruses. It helps prevent viruses from infecting your device and potentially causing harm.
- Voice Assistant: A built-in feature on your phone or computer that responds to voice commands and performs various tasks, such as making calls, setting reminders, or searching the Internet. Examples include Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
- Web: Short for World Wide Web, it is a system of interconnected websites and web pages that can be accessed through the Internet. It includes various types of content, such as text, images, videos, and interactive elements. (see World Wide Web).
- Webcam: A webcam is a camera device that captures video and audio, allowing you to participate in video calls, conferences, or record videos. It is commonly integrated into laptops, tablets, and computer monitors, or it can be an external device that connects to your computer via USB. Webcams are used for various purposes, including video chatting with friends and family, participating in online meetings or conferences, streaming live videos, or recording video content. They are essential for activities such as video calls, video conferencing, online streaming, or creating video content for social media platforms.
- Wi-Fi: A wireless network connection that allows your phone or computer to connect to the Internet without using mobile data. It’s like accessing the Internet through a wireless signal.
- Wikipedia: An online encyclopedia that provides articles on a wide range of topics. It is a free and collaborative platform where users can contribute and edit articles.
- World Wide Web: The interconnected network of websites and web pages accessible via the Internet. It includes various types of content and is accessed using web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Safari.
- Zoom: A video conferencing app allowing you to hold virtual meetings and conversations using your phone or computer. It’s like having a face-to-face conversation over the Internet.
A web browser differs from a search engine, although the two are often confused. A search engine is a website that provides links to other websites. Put another way, a search engine is a tool used to find information on the Internet by entering keywords or queries, while a browser is an application that allows you to access and view websites, including the search engine results pages. The search engine helps you find specific content, whereas the browser is the platform that enables you to interact with and view that content:
- Google is the most widely used search engine globally, known for its comprehensive search capabilities, user-friendly interface, and advanced search features.
- Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, offering a visually appealing interface and providing search results, including web pages, images, videos, news, and more.
Artificial Intelligence, abbreviated to AI, refers to the development of computer systems and machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI systems are designed to simulate and mimic human cognitive abilities such as perception, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making.
ChatGPT is an example of AI. It is a language model developed by OpenAI. It has been trained on a vast amount of text data from the Internet to understand and generate human-like text responses. ChatGPT is designed to have conversational abilities, allowing it to engage in dialogue with users and provide relevant and coherent answers and responses based on the input it receives.
It is important to note that while AI systems like ChatGPT can generate impressive outputs, they are still limited in certain aspects. They lack true understanding, consciousness, and common sense reasoning. They are completely devoid of humour. They operate based on patterns and correlations in the training data and may sometimes produce responses that seem plausible but are factually incorrect or nonsensical. It is essential to use AI systems with critical thinking and verify information obtained from them.
A study by Lancaster University examined Internet usage patterns among older individuals and identified several reasons why they tend to use the internet less frequently than younger people. Many older adults lack confidence in their technological abilities, which leads to concerns about security, especially regarding online banking.
According to Ofcom, older internet users engage in a narrower range of online activities than the general population. Only 29% of individuals aged 65 and above use the Internet for transactions, whereas 50% of the overall population does. Older adults are also less likely to use social media platforms, entertainment services, communication tools, and web browsing.
The Lancaster University study highlighted concerns regarding online shopping, which could exacerbate social isolation and impact the vitality of local high streets. For lonely older individuals, trips to town for shopping may be among the few social interactions they have, and the rise of online shopping threatens those in-person interactions. Interestingly, the study revealed that some older adults justify their non-use of the internet based on their age rather than expressing concerns about cyberbullying or lacking confidence in their digital skills.
On the other hand, the Office for National Statistics found that 61% of individuals aged 65 and above who do not use the Internet actively chose not to have access to it. There’s a widespread idea that seniors are technologically illiterate or dislike devices, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The biggest advantage of technology gadgets for older people is simply this: Connection to the outside world.
CAUTION: This paper is compiled from the sources stated but has not been externally reviewed. Parts of this paper include information provided via artificial intelligence which, although checked by the author, is not always accurate or reliable. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials covered in this paper for any particular purpose. Such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this paper meet your specific requirements and you should neither take action nor exercise inaction without taking appropriate professional advice. The hyperlinks were current at the date of publication.
End Notes and Explanations
- Source: Compiled from research using information at the sources stated throughout the text, together with information provided by machine-generated artificial intelligence at: bing.com [chat] and https://chat.openai.com ↑
- Source: https://literacynowburnaby.ca/why-is-digital-literacy-important-to-seniors/ ↑
- Sources: Digital Literacy for Senior Citizens: Building ICT Competencies – Connecting the Unconnected (ieee.org), at: https://ctu.ieee.org/digital-literacy-for-senior-citizens-building-ict-competencies/ and https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/lapsed_users_report_march-2020.pdf ↑
- Sources: https://patient.info/news-and-features/how-do-older-adults-feel-about-digital-healthcare andhttps://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3179995 ↑
- Source: https://veritascare.co.uk/technology-for-seniors/ ↑