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We are leaving older adults out of the digital world – TechCrunch

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May is national Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme is Connect, Create, Contribute. One area in particular threatens to prevent older adults from making those connections: the digital divide.

Nationally, one-third of adults ages 65 and older say they’ve never used the internet, and half don’t have internet access at home. Of those who do use the internet, nearly half say they need someone else’s help to set up or use a new digital device. Even in San Francisco – the home of technology giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Google – 40% of older adults do not have basic digital literacy skills, and of those, more than half do not use the internet at all.

Mastering digital technology has become a key component of what it means to fully participate in society. If we do not provide technology access and training to older adults, we shut them out from society, worsening an already worrisome trend of isolation and loneliness among the elderly.

As a researcher working directly with isolated older adults to provide low-cost internet, tablets, and digital training through the Tech Allies program, led by the non-profit Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, I regularly hear this sentiment from seniors.

I visit Tech Allies participants – whose ages range from 62 to 98 – both before and after their eight weeks of one-on-one technology training. We talk about their experiences with and perspectives on technology today. In reflecting on why he and other older adults would want to learn to use the internet, one elder told me, “We feel like we’re standing outside a building that we have no access to.”

Another woman shared that because she doesn’t have internet access or know how to use technology, she feels, “I’m just not part of this world anymore. In certain facets of society, I just can’t join…. Some [things] just are not possible if you are not in the flow of the internet.”

In contrast to concerns about technology use increasing isolation among younger populations, the communication and connection possible online can be especially valuable for older adults who are homebound, live far away from family, or have lost the loved ones they relied on for social support in their younger years. Elders can use online tools to connect with friends and family via messaging platforms, video chat, and social media even if they can no longer physically visit them.

Older adults can find online support groups for people who share their medical conditions. And they can engage with the outside world through news, blogs, streaming platforms, and email, even if they are no longer able to move about as easily as they once could. As one elder told me, “I can’t really move that easily without a caretaker and I only have her a few hours a day so [the tablet] … has been a great companion for me and it gets me connected with other people.”

Image courtesy of Getty Images

For older adults in particular, the risks associated with social isolation are profound. Loneliness among older adults has been associated with depressioncardiovascular disease,functional decline, and death. Technology can serve as an important tool to help reduce these risks, but only if we provide older adults with the skills they need to access our digital world.

But we can close this gap. Our research shows that Tech Allies measurably improves older adults’ use of technology and confidence in key digital skills. Programs like this, which embed technology training in existing community-based organizations, should be expanded, with increased funding prioritized at local, state, and federal levels and with greater involvement of technology companies and investors. If we spent even a fraction of the $8 billion invested in digital health companies alone last year on tailoring these tools for older adults, we could drastically expand usability, training, and access to broadband and devices.

Support from technology companies could take many forms. Beyond expanding device donation programs, technology companies should design devices specifically for older adults (when your hand is shaky, swiping can be tough…) and should have tech support call lines tailored to older adults less familiar with the internet (cache and cookies and clouds, oh my!).

Furthermore, broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T should streamline the enrollment process for their affordable internet programs and expand eligibility. Partnerships between service providers and community-based organizations focused on older adults will be key in ensuring that these efforts actually meet the needs of older adults.

To be sure, many older adults also express a lack of interest in technology. For some, this reflects a true lack of desire to use digital tools. But for others it reflects an underlying fear of technology and lack of skills. Appropriate training can help to quell those fears and generate interest. In particular, great care must be paid to online safety training. Older adults are more likely to fall victim to online scams, putting their personal information at risk, but with tailored digital literacy training, they can learn to navigate the internet safely and securely.

The importance of digital inclusion is not going to disappear with the generational changes of the coming decades. Technology is continuously evolving, and with each new digital innovation come challenges for even younger adults to adapt.

With greater investment in providing accessible devices, broadband, and digital training, technology has the potential to become a powerful tool for reducing loneliness among older adults, empowering them to connect, create, and contribute online. As one elder put it, “It’s time to catch up, you know, and join the world.”

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Today’s Wordle Answer #594 – February 3, 2023 Solution And Hints

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If the answer is still a mystery, the word is “tasty.” Apart from describing food as having agreeable flavor, you could say something or someone is tasty if they’re elegant or tasteful. The word is a diminutive of the root noun “taste,” which is from Old French “tast,” which is the term for the sense of touch (now Modern French tât).

In the original context of its usage around the 1400s, “taste” meant a share or a small portion; or the sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned; and savor or flavor. But by the late 1600s, it had also taken on the sense of “aesthetic judgment,” or “the ability to recognize and appreciate excellence” (via Etymonline). There are more variations of its usage, however, especially in idioms. For example, if you have a taste for something, it means you have a strong preference or desire for it, and if something’s so bad you can taste it, it means that thing is extremely unpleasant (via The Free Dictionary).

This is all based on the fact that the sense of taste is quite adept at perception and discrimination of refinement or finesse. This is the sense on which phrases like “have a good eye/nose” are also based. On average, the human tongue has 2,000–8,000 taste buds, with hundreds of thousands of receptor cells. To keep the sense of taste as keen as possible, each taste bud gets replaced about every two weeks (via Britannica).

We hope you finish your puzzle before you run out of guesses, and if you have a taste for puzzles, here are more like Wordle to keep you busy.

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A New Cybertruck Spotting Just Revealed Two Big Design Changes

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The first clear change to the Cybertruck has to do with the rearview mirrors. As Electrek correctly notes, the Cybertruck was originally meant to lack side mirrors, favoring the more futuristic solution of body-mounted cameras. Assuming the particular prototype that was spotted on the road in Palo Alto represents recent changes, that’s at least one concession to reality from the aggressively conceptual Tesla truck.

The second, arguably more significant change is to the truck bed. Prior to this sighting, the Cybertruck had yet to be shown with a working, retractable tonneau cover. User Flavio Tronz on Instagram seems to have caught the Cybertruck with the cover half-retracted, suggesting that particular challenge has also been conquered.

In short, the Cybertruck seems to be getting the tweaks and flourishes to be expected for a car that is expected to enter full-scale production soon. The implementation of simple, proven solutions, like side mirrors, suggests that Tesla is getting real about putting their vision of the future on actual roads.

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Is It Safe To Charge Your iPhone With Macbook Charger?

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According to Apple, if you own a Mac laptop or an iPad and have immediate access to the USB power adapter that came with it, you can certainly use it to charge your iPhone without the worry of potentially damaging your mobile device’s battery. It can also be used to charge other Apple products like a pair of AirPods or the Apple Watch. The following Apple USB power adapters are some of the options that can be used to charge your iPhone, provided that you have a USB-to-lightning cable:

  • 5W USB power adapter that came with iPhones that preceded the iPhone 11
  • 10W US power adapter that was included with every iPad Air and iPad Air 2, iPad 2, and iPad mini 2,3, and 4
  • 12W USB power adapter that was packaged with several versions of the iPad Pro

If you have a Mac USB-C power adapter or other third-party adapters that fulfill Apple’s safety standards, they can be used to charge your iPhone as well. Certain USB-C power adapters, when used in tandem with Apple’s USB-to-lightning cable, have the ability to fast-charge an iPhone 8 and later iterations up to 50% battery in about half an hour (via Apple). This includes the 29W USB-C power adapter that accompanied older MacBook models that were released in 2015 onwards as well as the 30W, 35W, 61W, 67W, 87W, 96W, and 140W USB-C power adapters that came with certain versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. If you own a MacBook laptop and have its Apple-brand power adapter, you should be able to see its wattage printed right on the device itself and determine if it can be used to charge your iPhone.

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