Technology that benefits seniors

Older adults who can access and use social media are more likely to socialise regularly.

Research shows that internet access and training can be a supportive and efficient way to maintain the senior’s social connections, which in turn positively contributes to their overall well-being (Morton et al., 2017), including mental health, which is said to improve as technology is learnt and understood. In turn, improved mental health is proven to catalyse social activity (Hanratty & Scharf, 2017), which means that technology can be seen as an asset in aiding seniors to socialise more regularly.

Some 81% of older adults who use social networking sites say they socialise with others on a daily or near-daily basis. For those who are not online at all, it is 63%. “Older adults who use social networking sites such as Facebook are more likely to regularly socialise with friends, whether online, in person, or over the telephone, compared with seniors who are not social networking site users.” (Anderson & Perrin, 2017). Walther also found that people over the age of 65 who spent more time online were more socially satisfied than those who didn’t (Walther, 1992).

Most young people are comfortable with their phones, laptops and tablets, and use them as a daily method of communication. Moving abroad for studies or work no longer holds the same weight, as it does not put the same toll on people's social connectivity. It is more common to live far away, and as communication technology is so effectively designed, loved ones can still be contacted daily. This is the case for the vast majority of society, but some do not have any experience with dragging or swiping on a touch screen and struggle to see what is displayed on a small smartphone. The reason for this is physically it is This creates a divide.

This is where the idea of ‘warm technology’ comes in, that is, technology aiming to bring those who are left behind up to speed, rather than making the tech-savvy more so. Technology aimed at seniors has been seen to create a “safer environment” by giving them more control in their everyday lives (Matlabi, McKee & Parker, 2012). Arguably, creating technology that is patient, and designed specifically to make sure seniors are not left clueless and lost in the modern technological landscape, will benefit society as a whole.