In synch with the digital age In synch with the digital age

In synch with the digital age

Grandparents 4 October, 2017 Ana María López de Mesa


More and more, the elderly are breaking into the world of technology. Losing their fear of these digital devices is key to them not getting left behind.

Medical Advisor: Nora Isabel Correa. Psychologist

According to a report from the Pew Research Center published in January 2017, in the United States, the percentage of adults between ages 50 and 64 who have at least one social network account (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) grew from 4% in 2005 to 64% in 2016. The study also found that in adults over age 64, the percentages of this same time period grew from 3% to 34%.

While there are no official figures on this phenomenon in Colombia, the situation in homes and in public spaces here is not far off from that of the United States.

Today, the elderly have overcome their fears and are taking the risk of becoming a part of society’s digital revolution. According to psychologist Nora Isabel Correa, this is a matter of attitude, of changing one’s way of thinking, of leaving judgments about technology behind and making it an ally to improve one’s quality of life.

Applying some of these tips may be useful to having a better understanding of this world, where grandparents, children and grandchildren can learn about new apps, share family photos and even learn about the latest fashion trends together.

Technology glossary

  • App: A software application that can be downloaded onto mobile devices that contain specific content. Some apps require payment to access.
  • Emoticons: A form of expression in social networks that uses images instead of text. They can be made from a sequence of characters or be taken from the emoji keyboard.
  • Tweet: Used to refer to a comment that is made by Twitter users.
  • Post: Used to refer to the publication that a user makes on their Facebook account.

Enjoying the virtual world

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, have a support network

Some elderly people think that because they are asking for help they will be seen as old-fashioned or behind with technology. Having this attitude is extremely unhelpful. According to Nora Isabel, the more they ask, the better. The family will notice they have an interest in learning and will not only share what they know with them, but will teach them about useful applications that can help them learn, entertain themselves, plan their time, pay bills and look for help, among other things.

  1. So you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Not anymore!

The saying no longer goes; just because someone is old, they can still learn something new. In the era of emoticons, new technology may be an emotional shock for the elderly when they do not understand how to express themselves in the virtual world. According to the psychologist, “If your grandchild laughs at you because you don’t understand them, don’t stop. Ask what they were referring to and what they were doing. That is the only way to understand them.”

  1. Say goodbye to the brick phone. A modern cell phone is good for them to have.

This tip is more for the family to consider, than the elderly. Why leave them with a “brick” phone when they can have a more modern one? If the idea is for grandparents or parents to learn, they will not be able to without the right tools. The newer the device, the easier it is for them to use, and get used to.

  1. Smart phones can be therapeutic

Some apps exist for the elderly to both distract and exercise their minds. With some, you can paint mandalas, do crossword puzzles, read books, watch TV shows, or take any type of online course. “Can they become addicted to it? Of course, which is why self-control is key,” the psychologist adds.