A lot of senior citizens find it difficult to use computers and smartphones. The keys are too tiny, the UI is too complex -- these are merely some of the complaints you often hear from your grandma. But now that the coronavirus crisis has forced most of us to cut ties with the world, at least physically, it appears the elderly can make room for technology in their lives.
Jordan Mittler was a high school sophomore when he decided to launch Mittler Senior Technology. The decision came after his grandparents got a smartphone, only to find out they have no idea how to use it.
"Seniors kind of missed the whole technology boom and don't know how to communicate with friends and family via text messaging and FaceTime," Mittler told Al Jazeera. It was then that the teenager decided to develop a 10-week course that covers the basics of smartphone use, computer, and the internet.
The pandemic has led us to a life wherein we're isolated from everyone we know and love. For the elderly whose knowledge of technology is limited, the feeling of loneliness can be more intense. With new technical knowledge, however, seniors in quarantine are leading more socially active lives than before.
Luckily, there are many types of new technologies that can help the elderly develop and maintain social relationships such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Other apps like Skype and Zoom are also becoming popular among seniors, thanks to family and caretakers who managed to make such programs easier to understand.
These forms of technology offer a new way to communicate and interact with others, as well as encourage older people to talk more to their friends and closest family. Apart from facilitating human interaction, technology can also simulate it. It can make seniors feel they are around people by simply watching videos on YouTube, TikTok, and other video sharing sites.
Of course, there's always the news to keep everybody informed and alert. We all need information these days to know how to keep ourselves, family, and friends safe. For the elderly whose limbs are still working perfectly fine, playing video games is a good option too.
Older people who use technology are likely to be more open to new types of technology, seek new skills, and are more alert. It's a vehicle for all of us to have that sense of community and get rid of feelings of isolation that's common in these trying times.