Why we need to break down the digital divide between generations

1st August 2019
Source: Maplewave
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Why we need to break down the digital divide between generations

Most of us will have struggled to get to grips with technology at some point in our lives, but people born during the 90’s and early 2000’s have a distinct advantage. The 90’s saw a huge technology boom and during the early 2000’s, smartphones, smart TV’s, and tablets all became common household items. For older people, understanding technology can be a frustrating process. Maplewave, who offer business intelligence consultancy are here to discuss why we need to break down this digital divide between generations and help older people understand technology of all kinds.

The problem with the digital divide
The digital divide is a problem for people of all ages in terms of social, financial, and economic disparities. Although once it was due to financial inequalities disabling the access to technology, it has now shifted towards a knowledge gap. Once connected to their devices, the information presented to them instantly becomes a barrier.

New technological innovations are constantly being developed, but there aren’t enough people with the necessary skills for the job. Thus, creates the digital gap, where the demand for digital skills has outstripped the supply. With predictions that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require an element of digital skills to a sufficient degree, so the efforts to bridge that gap is gaining pace.

Understanding the latest technology
So, for those that didn’t go through childhood and adolescence whilst the digital boom was underway, learning about what the latest technology has to offer can be an intimidating experience.

Generation X would’ve felt intimidated by the thought of learning how to use Microsoft Excel but now, it’s more virtual reality, voice activated domestic robots and wireless charging. It’s easy for the younger generations to grasp new developments in technology as it’s all we’ve ever known, we know the processes inside and out and can adapt out intuitiveness to suit the seemingly perpetual developments.

Building on already existing knowledge is a great way to start bridging the gap. If the senior is already familiar with an aspect, use analogies like referring links to webpages to roads to other cities or web addresses to street addresses.

Communication problems
Tech-orientated words like emoji and selfie have made their way into the Oxford English Dictionary, much to the disproval of traditionalists, but this just goes to show how much the internet has influenced the way we communicate. As digital natives, we have adopted this as if it were a second skin, so when it comes to communicating with the elderly on the topic of technology, be sure to use simplified language.

Jargon is usually used in order to make an explanation more concise, but overuse of jargon can confuse the listener and inhibit the learning process.

Educating older people
Sadly, an estimated one in five people over the age of fifty feel isolated and left behind by technology. It is therefore important for this demographic, which makes up a large chunk of any nations population, to begin coming to terms with the digital revolution.

This feeling of loneliness and feeling out of touch goes beyond financial aspects, as older people without free services such as Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp can often feel cut off from their family members. These visual or verbal communicative apps allow users to video or message each other from anywhere in the world providing they have a stable internet connection. It’s especially great for family times like Christmas or birthday’s if one of the family members is away travelling for leisure or work.

New technological innovations should still be welcomed, of course – but it is worth noting that the older generation may need more of a helping hand in order to keep up with the pace.

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