No technology for old men

Are youngsters aware that older people may be uncomfortable with new technology?

February 05, 2014 06:51 pm | Updated May 18, 2016 06:11 am IST - chennai:

Today’s youngsters think that technology can take care of their parents while they live abroad, claims a senior citizen.

AD: Hi, what’s up? You seem pretty upset.

BC: Just got back from my neighbour’s place. I get all worked up when I see someone choose another country as their home and expect technology to bridge the gap between them and their folks.

AD: I don't understand...

BC: Most people settled abroad think that they've done their duty by calling their parents a couple of times a week. They simply don't understand that it doesn't make up for their absence back home.

AD: Not all of them.

BC: Even if they take a vacation, they would rather holiday at some exotic place than visit their parents.

AD: Look, life abroad is not as rosy as you think it is... Besides, in today’s world, you have to find ways of keeping in touch — e-mails, Facebook, chats...

BC: Not all senior citizens are comfortable with technology. It's so difficult to learn something new after a particular age, especially for those who have never stepped out of their homes.

AD: There are so many ways to learn these days... And there's online help as well.

BC: What if even getting online is a problem for them?

AD: But it’s so easy to operate services like Skype.

BC: There we go again — even if they learn to operate a laptop, turn the Internet on and sit in front of the camera, they begin to panic if the image freezes or the audio doesn't work for a few seconds, because they don't know what’s going wrong.

AD: But operating a mobile is easy, right? And there are several apps that can help them to…

BC: You're looking at things from your viewpoint. You were born with all this technology around you. In their case, they are having their grandchildren teach them things. There's a big difference... Some of them are uncomfortable, others get intimidated.

AD: So why are you blaming technology for it?

BC: Because its presence is what makes today's generation think that it’s fine to keep in touch with parents back home through some new-fangled device. They don’t realise that the older lot will also be forced to adopt the same technology in order to respond.

AD: But technology is getting friendly.

BC: Hardly! Electronic goods manufacturers are so keen on making products child-friendly or child-proof, but unfortunately, when it comes to the older lot, they show scant regard...

AD: Why, what do you want them to do?

BC: What about special mobile phones for senior citizens who are probably not very comfortable with the current smartphones or the tiny keypads in regular mobiles? What about computers that are voice-enabled...

AD: There are mobiles, computer keyboards and tablets designed especially for the older users.

BC: But I haven't seen much on the shelves here. I hope you aren’t going to suggest that they buy these gadgets online…

AD: Don’t you think senior citizens need to embrace the changing world?

BC: You also need to consider the other problems of old age — failing eyesight, trembling hands, a nervous disposition, poor memory...

AD: That's the reason why technology has ushered in a concept known as pervasive computing. Based on this, computers — equipped with sensors and requisite software — observe and learn more about a person's habits non-intrusively. Soon, they become familiar with a senior citizen's habits and take over as a guide, in case his memory fails him or if he forgets to do something, like take his medicines, for instance.

BC: Sounds good, but these things need to move from being a dazzling experiment to a way of life for us to feel their utility.

AD: So what are you trying to say? That technology is a senior citizen’s biggest enemy?

BC: You’re exaggerating, but the point is, people abroad must understand that filial duties go beyond swinging by once in a while and gifting their folks an iPad.

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