The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing quarantine measures have hit every segment of the population hard. Its effects have been particularly acute for the elderly, though. Not only are senior citizens more susceptible to COVID-19, but many adults 65 and older have had to self-isolate while living alone. Being cut off from loved ones can create anxiety and depression; being cut off from essential services can lead to a drastically lower quality of life.
There have been many stories about elderly individuals increasing their technology use since lockdown started, improving their quality of life during self-isolation. Local IT support companies can support and help protect seniors using technology during the pandemic in four ways:
1) Support digital literacy among seniors
2) Encourage the use of tech for socializing
3) Teach seniors safe cybersecurity practices
4) Help stave off boredom and isolation with technology
Supporting Digital Literacy Among Seniors
In today’s digital age, more seniors than ever have smartphones. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of seniors in the United States have smartphones, while 67 percent report having internet access. However, only a quarter of adults over 65 feel confident about using these electronics to go online.
Local IT companies can step in, designing training programs, or starting initiatives for older adults who want to use tablets or smartphones to surf the web. Improved digital literacy isn’t just important during the pandemic, it should be an objective for senior populations regardless. Many essential services, like banking or ordering groceries, are offered online. When the pandemic hit and everyone had to self-isolate, the only way to access these services was via the internet. Seniors who don’t know how to go online with their devices are cut off from vital daily activities while in quarantine.
By volunteering to teach older adults proper digital literacy, local IT support companies can help seniors live a more comfortable daily life.
Encouraging the Use of Tech for Socialising
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In addition to accessing vital services, tech also connects over-65 adults to their families and friends. In most cities and countries, visits to senior care facilities were prohibited during a lockdown, since older adults are a high-risk population for the coronavirus. As a result, many older people could no longer see their family members, compounding their isolation during the quarantine.
By supporting training programs to help seniors use tech, local IT support agencies can help older adults learn how to use their devices or internet access to speak with loved ones. Lessons on FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or similar apps are easy to administer. IT support companies can create training materials, such as a video or slideshow, and send them to senior care facilities so the staff can show seniors how to use tech to socialize.
Teaching Seniors Safe Cyber Security Practices
When it comes to cybersecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors aren’t the only ones at risk. Phishing scams and fraud have been widespread, with cybercriminals preying on people’s anxiety over the public health crisis. The spread of misinformation has also been on the rise, making the crisis even more difficult to handle.
Those without safe internet-browsing practices put themselves at risk. Older adults who may not have sound digital literacy skills open themselves up to cyber-attack every time they go online. When organizing schemes to teach seniors about internet use, IT companies should also give robust directions for practicing good cybersecurity. They should also include pointers on how to sift through misinformation.
Staving Off Boredom and Isolation with Technology
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Seniors can also use technology to keep busy. Playing online games like Words With Friends, taking an online hobby course, or going on a virtual tour of a museum are all great ways to pass the time. Online courses and virtual cultural activities have become hugely popular since lockdown started, so it’s easy to find something online that’s fun and engaging.
Local IT agencies can provide support in this aspect by creating their own online training courses about digital literacy or cybersecurity, and offering them to senior citizens. Agencies can also initiate schemes that show older adults how to download games onto their smartphones, or how to find an online community dedicated to one of their interests.
Local IT support companies have an important role to play in the coronavirus pandemic. By running programming geared toward helping seniors increase their tech use, they can help protect older adults online during the pandemic. Manchester IT support company Amazing Support is dedicated to helping businesses and individuals by promoting digital literacy and safe cybersecurity amongst older adults.