Senior citizens, the elderly, the retired, pensioners… there are any number of terms, some more respectful than others, to refer to the over-65s, and that reflect changing attitudes and what it means to grow older in different countries. In any event, like the rest of society, the so-called baby boom generation, which is now reaching retirement age, uses technology in different ways and for different purposes.
Older people’s relationship with technology has evolved and is challenging long-standing stereotypes: we are seeing designs and interfaces to improve accessibility, as well as features such as health monitoring for a market that is growing as people live longer.
At the same time, older people themselves are taking a more positive attitude toward technology: more and more lead active lives, keep abreast of technological developments and are even becoming entrepreneurs and setting up businesses. The Economist has written about older people’s growing use of certain types of devices, replacing passive leisure activities such as watching television with a more active approach using computers, tablets or smartphones. For many older people, social networks mean being able to stay in touch with family and friends, alleviating the sense of loneliness many of us feel later in life. Some basic security habits, such as using password managers, can even help overcome problems with memory. That said, there is some evidence to suggest that older people tend to share more fake news, which if the case, is an issue that needs to be addressed.
I have recently begun to see articles about older people getting into gaming; in addition to having plenty of spare time to practice, it seems that the speed required to play video games is good for keeping our ageing brains agile, and in some cases older people have established a name for themselves in the gaming community. There has been much talk about the positive cognitive effects of video games, a conversation often unfairly eclipsed by the unfounded myth of the link between video games and violence, and many of these benefits apply, regardless of the player’s age.
The idea, in general, seems to be to take advantage of better learning possibilities due to older people finding themselves with more free time and, thanks to longer lifespans, being physical and mentally more able than previous generations. Technology offers a way to facilitate an active life, which is key to maintaining quality of life. Who knows, next thing, your parents or grandparents will be the next stars of Fortnite…
(En español, aquí)