Does Technology Suffer from Ageism?

Written by Marley Orton

July 8, 2021

It was recently brought to my attention the struggle seniors experience when trying to use technology. It reminded me of when my father, who had Parkinson’s Disease, couldn’t articulate words and thus could not easily communicate with anyone. Today much of our communication is through technology. How frustrating it must be to want to communicate with others and not be able to because of the way technology operates.

While researching this topic, I stumbled across a wonderful article on Senior Planet addressing this reality of ageism in technology. I’ll outline some of what they have found and what you can do about it.

So why is technology senior-unfriendly? The reason given in the article is that technology is developed from a “top-down” system, meaning that the developers design their programs based on what they think is best with no input from specific demographics. Most programmers are in their 20s or 30s and don’t even think about the limitations that come with aging. Things like loss of eyesight, hearing, and fine motor skills.

Despite the lack of thought be those designing the technology, we are fortunate to have some work-arounds. Here are a few suggestions made it that article:

  1. Use a stylus. A stylus will cost you a couple of dollars at the store, but could be invaluable to you when it comes to using your phone for texting, etc. Instead of having to use your finger, you can use the stylus to do the work for you.
  2. Use Swype instead of type. Swyping will make your phone work for you instead of typing each individual letter.
  3. Use voice dictation. Most voice-to-text applications work very well, but be sure to look through your message before you send.
  4. Use an external speaker or headphones. Most phones, computers and tablets have speakers that do not allow a very loud volume. If you use an external speaker or headphones that will no longer be an issue.
  5. Enlarge the font. Did you know that you can increase the size of font on your phone, tablet or computer? This will save you from a lot of frustration in the future.
  6. Reboot your device. When you run into a problem with your device, a quick reboot will most times resolve it.

When it comes to technology, you don’t have to let life pass you by. Determination goes a long way in helping us educate ourselves and figure out how we can use the wonderful thing called “technology” in our everyday lives.

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