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NORTHEAST RECRUITMENT OPINION

Thursday October 31 2019

The digital divide Why older people need to be more tech-savvy



Jonathan Mackley

JONATHAN MACKLEY | PR Executive




The digital divide Why older people need to be more tech-savvy

Older people are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to being technologically savvy. This struggle to get to grips with tech has a number of knock-on effects, hindering their progress at work, and even affecting their personal relationships. Picking up new technology is like a second language to most people in the millennial and gen-z age bracket, after all, they grew up in the middle of a tech boom, but older people are often slower to learn. Customer experience software experts Maplewave share their expertise on how we can help older people learn how to use technology.

A generational problem

The tech gap is not just a generational problem; social and economic issues also add to the divide. Although once it was due to financial inequalities disabling the access to technology, it has now shifted towards a knowledge gap. Once connected to their devices, the information presented to them instantly becomes a barrier. There is a huge effort to develop new innovations in technology but those with the necessary skills for the job are lacking in numbers. Thus, creates the digital gap, where the demand for digital skills has outstripped the supply. With predictions that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require an element of digital skills to a sufficient degree, so the efforts to bridge that gap is gaining pace.

How to bridge the gap

Younger generations tend to grasp new technological developments quickly; it’s all they have known since childhood and they are able to easily adapt to new innovations in tech.

Those of us that didn’t grow up during the tech boom can often feel intimidated when it comes to learning how to use an unfamiliar piece of tech. Generation X would’ve felt intimidated by the thought of learning how to use Microsoft Excel, now, it’s more virtual reality, voice activated domestic robots and wireless charging. A great way of bridging the gap between developments is building on existing knowledge. If the senior is already familiar with an aspect, use analogies like referring links to webpages to roads to other cities or web addresses to street addresses.

The online language

Traditionalists may turn their nose up at tech-oriented words like emoji or selfie making it into the dictionary, but this just goes to show much technology has influenced modern language. As digital natives, we have adopted this as if it were a second skin, so when it comes to communicating with the elderly on the topic of technology, be sure to use simplified language. Although using jargon is usually deployed to make the explanation process more concise, it’ll stall or confuse the listener and cause the teaching to slow down.

The importance of tech for seniors

Millions of over 50’s are struggling to find work as a result of their technological short-comings. With an estimated one in five over 50’s feeling as though they are being left behind by technology, it’s important for that demographic, which makes up a large chunk of any nations population, to begin coming to terms with the digital revolution.

This isn’t just a financial issue either; many older people feel isolated from their families, especially if they don’t know how to use video chat technology such as Facetime or Skype. All of which being visual or verbal communicative apps where users can video or message each other from anywhere in the world providing they have a stable internet connection. It’s especially great for family times like Christmas or birthday’s if one of the family members is away travelling for leisure or work.

Teaching older people the basics of technology could benefit both employers and individuals, but it’s important that we take a patient and careful approach to avoid information overload.



"Millions of over 50s are struggling to find work as a result of their technological short-comings."
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