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Longevity meets technology

Looking for partners in the technology world who care about this age group.

Longevity and technology are two global macro trends impacting our world daily. The older generation were already in the workplace or close to retirement as the internet emerged in the 1990’s. Smart phones and many other modes of technology are being designed all the time to make our lives easier and more connected. Most of these designs are being done by a younger generation without too much thought about the impact this may have on many consumers.

This past year, COVID has highlighted how much technology can make a difference in so many areas of our lives. Connecting to those we love. Working remotely. Online shopping and banking. Remote medical consultations and many others. The very group that was isolated the most, do not have the tools, skills, and connectivity to engage in this new world. They have been completely isolated from a new reality.

This group are called “digital immigrants”. Here is a description of the difference between a digital immigrant and a digital native. A digital immigrant is a person born before the widespread adoption of computers and has had to adopt digital technology later in life. Digital immigrants are less technically able than digital natives and it is argued that they can never develop the same level of technology skills and knowledge as digital natives. (reference: igi-global.com)

This is a term and not everyone falls into a clear category but as a generation, these terms help us to understand the collective challenges we face.

At 50Plus-Skills this is an area we are engaging with, as we learn, serve, and earn together. The younger part of this group – 50-70 has some skills, and many have the tools and connectivity. We engage in building these skills. The older part of this group- 70+ is often more isolated and disconnected. In 2021, we would like to start engaging in research, talks, workshops and activity to improve this challenge. The challenges are as broad as our demographic mix and include a lack of affordable connectivity, not being able to purchase the right tools and needing help to learn the skills. We hope to build bridges to strengthen these challenges and need help.

The quote below from a champion in this space in the USA says it clearly:

Smartphones and internet access have become essential to socialize, carry out everyday tasks and access health care. If you only have a telephone, you are disconnected.”  Tom Kamber, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services

We would be interested to speak to anyone who has this consumer group as part of their customer base. How are you ensuring they stay engaged? If you are a National or Multi-national operating in South Africa, are you working on ensuring that this group are not left behind? Companies involved in selling the equipment, those offering the connectivity and, in any way, engaged in building technology solutions, are the groups we would like to partner with. We have a collective responsibility to support our elders and ensure that they feel cared for and loved. We would also like to engage with any academic organisation that would like to do research in this area.

The focus for the last 20 years has been on digital inclusion for the youth. We agree that this is important and forms a large part of our future. Will we ignore our over 50 population that make up 10 million of the people we serve?  We do so at our peril. Be in contact with our CEO, Lynda Smith, if you would be interested to engage further. lynda@50plus-skills.co.za