Welcome to the 21st century, where technology is king. Smartphones, computers, GPS, and an astounding array of other devices have become pervasive in modern culture.
One side effect of this is that the cost of being offline is steadily rising. Fueled by the desire for lower costs and greater efficiency, many companies and government agencies are moving their operations online.
The U.S. News‘ Phil Moeller takes note:
Government and the private sector are shifting to online tools as their dominant form of public communication. It saves time and money, and provides more responsive public services. But surveys of Internet and technology use show that many, if not most, older consumers are bypassed with online communication.
Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Social Security Administration said it would stop sending paper statements to Americans explaining their Social Security benefits. Instead, such statements would be available online. As part of a broader government policy, Social Security will also be ending paper-based benefit checks by May 2013.
Former Forrester Research analyst Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, states in that same article that price and complexity are the main barriers to adopting new technologies, as is the comfort of doing things in a familiar fashion. She considers seniors a “lost generation” when it comes to Internet technology, a view I find to be overstating the case.
While seniors have not adopted digital technology as rapidly as their younger counterparts, Silver Surfers account for a large and growing segment of the population. Boomers, on the other hand, are using it with almost the same frequency as their millennial counterparts. For both groups, the rate of adoption is increasing rapidly.
The number of people over 65 is going to double worldwide in the next 40 years. Here in the U.S., 80 million baby boomers will celebrate birthdays in their 60s and 70s over the next two decades. In the meantime, advances in design and user interface will continue to make the Internet more accessible and ubiquitous. Tablets are far more user-friendly and less intimidating than laptops, and the advent of touch-screen devices like the WOW! Computer for Seniors are at the forefront of this wave.
Getting online is more and more vital for today’s older adults for many reasons. Among the many things they have to deal with include:
- Paying extra for airfare by using a reservations agent rather than an online service.
- Missing out on online coupons and other digital bargains. (Particularly during times like the upcoming Cyber Monday.)
- Becoming isolated from grandchildren and family members, most of whom increasingly rely on digital devices to communicate.
Take a page from the BBC’s “Give an Hour” campaign and assist the older adult in your life with getting online today!