The rate at which technology is developing is so fast that most of us struggle to keep up. When we were children, some of the lucky ones may have had an old Commodore 64, which needed programming language just to access Ms Dos. It seems like it took no more than a blink of an eye for programming language to be replaced with touchscreens and the old Commodore to be replaced with an iPad or tablet. And nobody even knows what Ms Dos is anymore!
It is amazing to watch children and how proficient they are with all this new technology. Hand them a smartphone, tablet or computer and they know what to do and where to go. They know about Google and YouTube and they know how to create complicated documents and spread sheets, which they learn at school. They also know how to download and play games, something they generally learn simply by using their parents’ devices.
It is great that kids are able to use the new technology and to keep up with developments. However, the problem with this is that people of older generations really struggle. As everything is starting to become automated, this is truly becoming a problem. For instance, someone who is in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance now has to have access to the internet in order to log jobs that they have applied for. Anybody who is made redundant at the age of 60, for instance, therefore has to have up to date IT skills, something that most of them don’t have.
This isn’t about elderly people being able to download and play Angry Birds or being able to contact long lost relatives through Facebook or even making phone calls through Skype. Naturally, if that is what they want to be able to do, they should be given the opportunity to learn. But those who have no interest in having better IT skills are finding themselves stuck and isolated and incapable of doing certain tasks that are essential to their day to day life.
The situation has created a requirement of people to come up with IT training for older people. After all, this is an absolute necessity. Consider that shopping is done online, prescription requests are done via email and bills can be paid through online portals and you will begin to understand just how important this type of training really is. Not just that, elderly people need to have access to a computer in the first place. Indeed, local libraries offer this to some degree, although the computers are often out of date and don’t have the necessary software packages available. This has created a situation in which it is vital that services are made available not just to train elderly people, but also to allow them to access finances to purchase a computer.
Clearly, much work remains to be done. However, it is essential that services start to have an understanding for older people who do not have the necessary IT skills and need those in order to live a happy, productive life.
Peter Short is a renowned author of all things computer related. Peter frequently visits theitservice.co.uk to get the latest tips and information on IT related training courses.