It’s often assumed older people are unable to cope with technology and the Internet. Like all stereotypes, it’s incorrect. Keep in mind that people who pioneered computers and the internet are in their sixties. So the generation that started it all is actually quite active.
Perhaps if everyone over 60 were not collectively termed “the elderly” we might start to see stereotyping improve. Nevertheless, Axesslab’s blog page, Real Facts about the Elderly and the World Wide Web puts things in perspective, at least in the United States. Here are some key points:
- People in the baby boomer generation spend around 27 hours weekly online.
- Of the group aged over 65, seven out of ten go online daily.
- 82% of those in both groups run searches online related to what they’re interested in.
- Two-thirds of older people use the web to access weather and the news
- 57% shop online.
- 44% want information about food and cooking.
- 43% use it to play games.
- Almost half go online to check for coupons, daily deals, and discounts.
There’s a handy infographic with statistics on the MedAlertHelp webpage, but watch out for the pop up ad in the body of the text. It shows the results from a comprehensive survey in lots of detail. The picture above is just one section of the infographic.
Editor’s note: Regardless of the people who do use the Internet, those who don’t are seriously disadvantaged as more businesses and government services move to digital mode.
Mobile Apps and older people
With talk of Smart Cities, it is important for older adults to be included in digital designs. Twenty-two industry built mobile apps were evaluated in a study from Trinity College Dublin. Some were designed specifically for older people, and others for a broader target audience.
Text re-sizing and zooming were the main issues. Overall, the apps did not meet accessibility principles of being perceivable, operable, or understandable for older people. The platforms supported accessibility settings, but for older people, finding these settings is a problem.
The article is titled, “Are Mobile Apps Usable and Accessible for Senior Citizens in Smart Cities?” It provides a comprehensive review and good conclusions. It is expected that more people will use mobile apps and computers to accomplish daily tasks and to access important information and services. This kind of study and ongoing research is therefore important for people of all ages.
From the abstract
Smart phones are key devices that provide a way for people to interact with the smart city services through their mobile applications (Apps). As the population is ageing and many services are now offered through mobile Apps, it is necessary to design accessible mobile interfaces that consider the needs of older people. These needs are related to cognitive, perceptual, and psycho-motor changes that occur while ageing, which affect the way older people interact with a smart phone.
Although a comprehensive set of design guidelines are suggested, there is no evaluation on how and to what extent they are considered during the mobile App design process. This paper evaluates the implementation of these guidelines in several industry-built Apps, which are either targeted at older people or critical city services Apps that may benefit older people but are targeted at a broader audience.