Human Interest

How the Digital Age is leaving older people behind

By May Ponzo

Madrid, Mar 31 (EFE).- Growing old means not being able to keep up with technological developments and losing touch with the new generation – it is very difficult to interact with people who are constantly on their phones, says Sylvia Gros, 80.

Sylvia is one of the millions of people who feel marginalized by the Digital Age.

“It annoys me to have to pay for a loaf of bread with my credit card, but what can we do? We have to get used to it,” she tells Efe.

The digitalization of sectors like trade, communications, banking and mailing has made life easier for many of us, but for others, including older people like Sylvia, it is a struggle.

“Everything is automatic in banks now, no-one is there to help you, everything is on computers, and when they explain to me how to use it, I don’t really understand them so I have to ask them to explain it to me all over again,” Sylvia, who lives in Vienna, says.

A mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of seven, Sylvia walks nearly 10 kilometers everyday, meets friends for lunch, travels across the globe to visit her family and despite feeling very lonely, is completely self-sufficient.

A strong, independent woman, it is only when she finds herself in front of an ATM, or when her smartphone needs a software update, that she suddenly feels small, out of control and a little panicked.

“Every two to three months everything changes, and I am completely lost again,” she says.


There were an estimated 4.9 billion active Internet users in 2021, which equates to roughly 63% of the world’s population, according to a United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report.

The percentage of active users globally is overwhelmingly young, with around 71% between the ages of 15-24 compared to 57% spanning all other age groups.

“More and more information is now being given online but if you don’t use the Internet, then you are just that little bit out of touch,” Susan Langford, director of Magic Me, a United Kingdom-based charity that works to connect generations through art, tells Efe.

Langford acknowledges that the digitization of information has helped our lifestyles, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, but points to a dangerous gap it has created in society.

“Older people are being left out of the picture and not getting the information they need, but also the people that are giving out that information are losing touch with their audience,” she says.

Mavis Bond, 87, also known as ‘Supergran’ in the Bond family, echoes that sentiment.

“Those who do not have a computer are finding it very difficult to cope these days as so much form filling has moved online. Many do have computers but find they cannot wade through the pages of instructions,” Mavis, who lives in Malta, tells Efe.

Although Mavis says that having a computer has been “invaluable” to keep in touch with her friends and family, she has seen many of her peers struggle.

“We know elderly people, even older than me, and we have to visit them to explain how to use a computer,” she said.

From monthly software updates, mobile innovations, wireless chargers to enhanced connectivity, the digital space is constantly evolving.

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