Why We Should Embrace the Digital World

Elderly Man in the digital world with a laptop

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Today’s seniors are living in a technology-enabled Digital World which offers us several conveniences

The digital world comes with avenues for information, entertainment, education, learning new skills, networking, and much more

So what is the Digital World?

According to Wikipedia The digital world is the availability and use of digital tools to communicate on the Internetdigital devicessmart devices, and other technologies”

The Cambridge dictionary defines an analogous term “Digital Age” as “the present time, in which many things are done by computer and large amounts of information are available because of computer technology”

How are the generic advantages of the digital world applicable specifically to seniors?

1.      A Digital Economy puts us more in control of our Lives:

In my experience, a digital world gives us more control over our lives.

As we age we grow physically feebler.

We also become more apprehensive about going out by ourselves.

Walking on crowded streets is a challenge. Crossing a busy road is something I dread.

Online Ordering of basic necessities like groceries, household provisions, milk, eggs, etc is wonderfully convenient. A blessing of the digital age.

2.      It offers opportunities for Learning

I have taken many online courses after I turned 60.

I have taken and completed Google’s free Course on Digital Marketing.

I have bought many online courses from Udemy on topics as diverse as Real Estate, SEO, Proof Reading, and Digital Art.

 I discovered to my surprise and glee that Udemy courses can be bought for a fraction of the price during the Special Discount period. Thus courses which were priced at upwards of Indian Rupees (Rs) 10,000 were available for less than Rs. 500!

I have friends who have registered for online language classes..one is learning French and the other Sanskrit

3.      Opportunities to Pursue Arts & Crafts Online:

Post Retirement, some of my retired classmates have taken up crafts like Painting and Sketching. They learn it online.

A friend who used to dabble in playing the keyboard when young is now taking online classes. It keeps her occupied and helps her distress.

One friend discovered a new passion in an online class -Terrace Gardening. She grows greens and tomatoes and has plenty to distribute to others too.  She is an active member of Whatsapp and Facebook Gardening Groups and is fairly occupied throughout the day.

I have a 64-year-old sister and 66-year-old brother in law are into karaoke singing. My brother-in-law had dreams of becoming a playback singer for Indian films. He eventually took the path of academics and he is a Professor of Physics at a University in the USA.

Now he has revived and to a certain extent fulfilled his childhood dream – Every couple of weeks he and his wife record a duet on SMULE, the well-known Karaoke App, and share it with family and friends on Whatsapp groups

4.      Surfeit of Online Entertainment –

Growing up my main hobbies were reading fiction, listening to music and occasionally watching a movie at a theater outside of my home.

Pursuing these simple hobbies required quite of a bit effort:

-          To get my supply of books on fiction I became a member of a local library. It was located about half a kilometer from home. I had to walk the to and fro distance or go on my bicycle.

-          We listened only to the music relayed by the local radio station when I was a kid. A few years later cassette recorder players became available and we could buy pre-recorded cassettes of film music and listen to them.

-          Going to the theatre for a movie was a major exercise. My Dad and Mom would at first inquire about the movie from their friends and relatives and “approve” it for viewing by us the children. Tickets would have to be purchased in advance. One or two of us kids would physically go to the theatre, stand in a queue and purchase the tickets.

Amazingly now I can pursue all the above three recreational activities sitting at home:

-          My Kindle is full of the books that I love. I bought them all while sitting at home

-          I have downloaded songs I like both on my mobile phone and laptop

-          With so many OTT Channels, I don’t have enough time to do justice and watch all the popular movies and web series!

-          Even if I want to watch a movie in the theatre I book tickets online. I order coffee and a snack online sitting at home. Either my husband drives or we hire a cab from the Uber Ride mobile application.

5. Aspiring Writers –The World Wide Web is your Canvas

I always wanted to write. To get published.

As a teenager and young woman, I freelanced for magazines and wrote occasional articles for the papers.

Once I got busy with work and family, this desire was shelved.

After retirement, I found that there are a host of free, simple, well-known platforms on which you can write.

Medium, Quora, Reddit, and Substack are the more well-known ones.

And if you don’t want to be on a platform, you can start your own blog. This blog is on the simplest, oldest and free blogging platform of Google ie Blogger.

6.      Helps Seniors to Keep Better Track of their Health

Almost all hospitals and medical laboratories in my city i.e. Chennai in India have the facility of sending medical reports through email and Whatsapp. Just a few years ago one had to physically travel to the hospital or laboratory just to pick up the report.

I fix my dental appointments through a mobile application. My tech-savvy dentist prefers it that way.

I read a lot of health-related articles on my smartphone. Through a web search you can narrow down the topic and access the latest medical research and developments across the world

7.       Greatly Facilitates Social Connectivity and Networking

WhatsApp has become a very commonly used way to communicate online. Usually, one becomes a  member of a Whatsapp group of classmates or work colleagues, or family. It’s a wonderful way to communicate, share photographs, to remain in touch, and to be socially active 

What is the Digital Divide which some seniors are facing?

Digital Divide is the exclusion of seniors from accessing the many digital or online services available and benefiting from them.

So why is this happening?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, UK There are many reasons why older people can be digitally excluded. The inequalities in our society mean that those with the most wealth have far more economic resources, social support, and knowledge to be digitally included.”

According to an article in the New York Times As life has increasingly moved online during the pandemic, an older generation that grew up in an analog era is facing a digital divide. Often unfamiliar or uncomfortable with apps, gadgets and the internet, many are struggling to keep up with friends and family through digital tools when some of them are craving those connections the most.”     

Digital Divide is being faced to a considerable extent by seniors in India too.

 India boasts more than 560 million internet users, making it the second largest online market in the world. Yet there are vast disparities in use, by age, socio-economic status, gender, and areas where people reside.


The penetration rate for smartphones is about 54%, but only around 5% for those 55 years and older. “ 


According to the digital publication Unravel, access to the internet and digital literacy are becoming vital to civic participation and the ability to access healthcare, and social and economic services – which are increasingly computerized and digitalized. Greater familiarity with digital tools will also reduce dependency, increase autonomy and boost self-worth among India’s fast-growing elderly population. 

My premise is that a senior reading this blog has access to the internet and is already reaping the benefits of the digital world

Just a few years ago one needed to have a computer or laptop or at least a tablet to access the net.

Now we can access the internet with a hand-held device like a smartphone. A smartphone is not a luxury product but is rather quite affordable.

So if you have access to the internet, embrace the digital world and milk it for all it has to offer.

And if you know a senior, perhaps a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance who has been digitally excluded show them how they can enter the digital world.

It is all about getting the right device if they are in an area that has internet access. 

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