Technology is developing at such a fast pace today that it can sometimes be hard even for Millennials to keep up. It’s difficult to imagine what it must be like for people aged 65 and over.
In reality, though, research data paints a different picture altogether. With the elderly spending an average of 27 hours a week online, it seems that using tech isn’t so difficult for them after all.
Why Do Seniors Use the Web?
Just like everyone else, seniors use the net on a daily basis and for a variety of reasons:
- Most older adults go online to get information on something they are interested in. This ranges from medical and health advice to current news and weather reports.
- As many as 57% of seniors use the net to do some shopping. While most of them shop online due to mobility issues, a large percentage claim that it is more convenient than going to the store.
- Playing games is another reason for senior activity on the net. Online games engage both the body and the brain, giving older adults a chance to improve motor and cognitive skills.
- Plenty of adults over 60 use social media and other platforms to communicate with family and friends. And this isn’t just about checking up on grandkids on Facebook. Many seniors post photos and send instant messages, too.
- In addition to browsing health websites, seniors use the net to find suitable care. And this goes the other way too. Caregivers can use apps and tracking devices to store information on medical history and medication schedules in a neat and easily accessible manner.
3 Popular Devices Among Seniors
Although tablets are relatively new on the market, almost half of seniors between the ages of 50 and 59 opt for this device as the right fit for their needs.
One of the two biggest advantages of using tablets is the larger screen size. Many of the elderly have eyesight issues, so a larger screen is the best option for them. The other reason is the fact that tablets are portable and easy to use. Seniors can take them anywhere and some even say that tapping on the device instead of clicking on a mouse makes the gadget feel more friendly.
2. Desktop computers and laptops
These tech devices appear to be the most popular among adults aged 70 and over. It is estimated that a high 66% of adults aged 70+ prefer computers to other electronic devices.
For older adults who like to print content or edit and store photos, a computer is the way to go. Like tablets, computers and laptops have bigger screens which certainly makes reading articles or writing emails easier. Also, some seniors have difficulty balancing the tablet in their hands, which is not an issue with laptops and PCs.
3. Cellphones and smartphones
Phones are the most popular device among the elderly. Studies show that almost 58% of older adults have a cell phone and that at least 17% have a smartphone. Not a bad number for people believed to be complete technophobes.
Today’s smartphones can do everything. Seniors can use them to make calls, text, take videos and photos, and even send alerts and reminders. In addition, thanks to virtual assistants on phones, the elderly don’t have to worry about typing. Voice commands are a life changer for seniors, especially those with limited mobility. People aged 60+ also rely on stored contacts in order to communicate with family and friends, as most of us do.
Seniors, Social Media, and Mental Health
Social networks are widely considered to be the best way for seniors to contact their family and friends. Additionally, staying connected to different online communities makes the elderly feel less lonely and less disconnected from the rest of the world. This, in turn, improves their mental health and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. It also empowers them by providing older adults with various social opportunities that will enhance their overall quality of life.
The Bottom Line
Contrary to what many people think, seniors are not completely clueless about technology. In fact, they are proven to be quite tech-savvy considering the range of devices they use and the reasons why they access the internet. So, the next time you judge an older person about their tech skills, keep this information in mind.
*Nikola Djordjevic, MD, Head of Content at MedAlertHelp.org. Coming from Serbia, Nikola is a Doctor of Medicine who started this project in 2018 out of his passion for helping others, particularly seniors. Apart from reviewing medical alert systems, he also writes a blog dedicated to health, aging, retirement, and other senior-related topics.