IT 4 Seniors

Digital skills are indispensable nowadays, even for seniors. Whether arranging online banking, passing on a move or refilling a prescription, the use of digital systems is indispensable in our society. During the lockdowns, online services became even more important. For senior citizens, the lack of computer skills led to problems in arranging everyday matters, but also to loneliness and exclusion. The Data Science research group investigated how the digital skills of seniors can be improved.

Society is becoming increasingly digital, but not everyone has the skills and resources to participate. Many elderly people belong to this group, which faced many problems during the lockdowns. Not only with practical matters such as groceries, but also isolation and boredom were among the challenges they faced. COVID-19 makes the digital divide in society more visible because the world population is aging and IT systems are becoming increasingly prevelant.

Seniors digitally skilled through e-learning

The central question in this research is whether e-learning can help seniors develop more digital skills so that they too can fully participate in the digital society. To investigate this, the researchers interviewed 23 elderly people about problems they encountered during the lockdown. Afterwards, the seniors watched videos in which they were presented with potential solutions to these problems and indicated whether they would like these videos.

Challenges for older people in dealing with IT

The seniors who participated in the study indicated that they experienced 2 major challenges during the lockdown.

  1. Shopping: Almost all supermarkets offer an online shopping service. Most elderly people do not yet use this. Only one interviewee indicated that he ordered groceries online. With some training, many more seniors can do their shopping online.
  2. Contact with family members: For contact with family and friends, video calling seems to be the best option. The seniors experience the contact as more personal compared to whatsapping or calling.

Explanation online services in videos works positively

The results of the study show that videos help seniors develop their digital skills. Because the online presence of the elderly is low, an important point of attention is to bring the information to the attention.

The results also showed that seniors are motivated to develop their digital skills. Nearly 65% of the study participants put what they had learned from the e-learning videos into practice within a week.

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Dr. Hani Al-Ers
Senior Researcher
Hani Al-Ers is a researcher in the field of human-machine interactions. He completed his PhD at the Delft University of Technology at the Interactive Intelligence group of the Faculty Computer Science (EEMCS). Philips Research in Eindhoven sponsored his project which was aimed at improving the user experience of Philips tv sets. He completed 2 post-docs at the Delft University of Technology, during which he managed international consortia on topics such as an improved quality of life for the elderly. Currently, he is conducting research in the field of health and education and he leads the Research Education activities at the Dutch Innovation Factory.