The Digital Shift
The Positive and Negative Aspects
In the UK COVID-19 has digitally shaped our lives in many ways, from the way we shop and communicate to how we access information and services. While the digital shift has affected every generation, the effect hasn’t been equal to all generations, the elderly sometimes described as less tech savvy, have felt both positive and negative effects of this shift. In this blog, we will explore some of the positive and negative aspects that were brought about by COVID-19.
Digital Inclusion: Bridging the Gap
There have been highs and lows regarding the digital shift introduced by COVID-19, one of the most significant challenges has been digital exclusion. The younger generations were born into a digital world, whereby they have been familiar with the digital ways of living from a very young age, this is not the case for the elderly generation. For many of the elderly generation, COVID-19 forced them to learn how to be more tech-savvy to avoid feelings of isolation, as lockdowns meant socialisation was stopped. Many felt the only way they could communicate with their family was by technology, for many this was a struggle as family members could not come round to help due to the social distancing put in place by COVID-19.
In the pre-digital era, staying in touch with loved ones who lived far away was a challenge. But today, thanks to tools like Skype and WhatsApp, you connect with family and friends all over the world with just a few clicks. Video calls have made it possible for grandparents to see their grandchildren grow and share special moments, even when miles apart. These digital tools have, in many cases, brought families closer together.
The digital shift has also exposed the elderly to an overwhelming amount of information. From fake news to the complexities of online banking, navigating the digital landscape can be confusing. With so much information available, some older individuals may struggle to establish what's reliable and what's not, potentially leading to misinformation and confusion. However, to put your mind at ease please ask family or friends for assistance to help sift through the information and discover what is relevant to you.
Access to Healthcare
Access to healthcare services has seen a significant improvement due to the digital shift. Telemedicine now allows you to consult with healthcare professionals without leaving your home. There are now apps and websites that allow you to order medications and book appointments. Similarly, wearable health devices have made it easier to monitor health conditions, providing peace of mind for both you and your families.
While digital technology has brought many conveniences, it has also raised privacy concerns. You may be less familiar with the details involved with data security, which means you may be more vulnerable to online scams and data breaches. The harsh reality is the digital shift has brought about a rise in online fraud and phishing attempts meaning you must take care while engaging in online activities. Many online tools can be installed on your devices to protect your privacy and enhance your privacy settings.
Access to Information
The internet provides you with everything at your fingertips, for the older generations now have access to an endless library, whereby you can find anything from recipes to the news within seconds. Access to news and current affairs through websites and news apps allows you to stay informed and engaged with the world. There are now endless platforms that allow you to learn a new skill or gain further knowledge in the later years of your life.
The fast pace of technological advancements can be overwhelming. Learning to use new devices and software can be challenging, especially if you didn’t grow up in the digital age. The constant need to adapt and upgrade can cause anxiety and frustration for some. However, you know what will be relevant and what will assist your day-to-day life therefore only learn the appropriate software and access the websites that you need, and feel will benefit you. Local colleges often hold free IT courses to help people understand the world of technology with ease.
Contrary to many beliefs that the older generation finds technology challenging many have embraced social networking platforms such as Facebook. These platforms offer a chance to connect with others who share similar interests and life experiences. Online communities have sprung up around various hobbies, providing an opportunity for social interaction that might not be available in the physical world due to lockdown and social distancing.
Loneliness and Isolation
While the digital shift has brought about the chance to communicate in new ways, for some the ease of sending a text message or email may lead to a decrease in face-to-face social interaction. Occasionally, the digital world can feel impersonal, leaving some feeling the absence of the warmth of personal contact. Therefore, it is important to use technology to reach out to your friends and family to support you through any loneliness you may feel.
The digital shift has changed the way we consume entertainment. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer have made it possible for the elderly to access a vast library of films and TV shows. Audiobooks and e-books have also become popular, providing an accessible means of reading for those with visual impairments. A positive digital shift.
The digital shift has had an impact on the elderly in the UK. While it has brought both positives and negatives, with continued support, the digital age can be a time of change and learning for the elderly generation. Enabling everyone to engage in the ever-changing digital world.
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