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According to a recent study conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab, seniors are getting bolder and bolder in the field of digital solutions, thereby greatly expanding their capabilities. As the gap between the elderly and the rest of society begins to close, digital skills are gradually ceasing to be an attribute of the younger generation. However, the coronavirus pandemic has somewhat slowed down this trend, which is mainly not due to the reduced access to technology for seniors, but its rapid acceleration associated with Covid-19.
Smartphone is also an attribute of a senior citizen
Compared to 2016, there has been a significant increase in the frequency of smartphone use by seniors in all six types of online activity included in the Ericsson study. The biggest difference is seen in daily internet browsing. In 2016, nearly half of seniors (47%) admitted to this activity; by 2020, it was 81%. Things like using instant messaging and social media are becoming increasingly popular. However, the biggest difference over the past 4 years can be seen in categories such as watching short video clips (33 p.p. difference) and watching full-length movies (28 p.p. difference).
One reason older people are starting to catch up with the younger generation is that each year new people with more digital experience join this group. At the same time, because of their relatively rich digital experience, the youngest of the elderly are more likely to learn new online habits. Family and friends also play a big role in the adoption of new technologies, encouraging older adults to use devices and apps to facilitate communication or simply provide entertainment.
The end of the intergenerational gap, the beginning of the insidegenerational gap
According to Ericsson, the technological skills gap between the elderly and the rest of society is starting to close, but instead of the intergenerational gap, another problem is emerging – the inside-generational skills gap. According to an analysis conducted by Ericsson, five different segments of seniors can now be distinguished, mainly based on their use of digital devices and the Internet.
Among the intra-generational gap, Ericsson specifically counts two groups of seniors who, compared to others, are characterized by slow adoption of new technologies and low online activity. These are the “old traditionalists” and “busy retirees” who are more likely to live alone than the average senior, and often have more health problems or financial constraints that affect their quality of life.
An interesting point is that they have different attitudes about future technology. In the survey, 47% of aging technology fans expressed excitement about AI, while 52% said they were fascinated by the possibilities that new 5G mobile technology could bring. Among traditional seniors, it was 23% and 25%, respectively.