The pandemic has demonstrated that occupying one's leisure time is not trivial. Filling time does not appear to be a social urgency until it is clear how its use correlates with variables such as depression, sadness, anguish, and other symptoms of bad life in the elderly.

As a result, if we are talking about older adults, we must assume that leisure is a strategic issue. It is a matter of providing creative and enriching leisure activities for older adults in order to promote active ageing.

Active ageing is built on four pillars: health, security, participation, and lifelong learning. To be sustainable, these four pillars must coexist with intergenerationality in order to avoid digital ghettos and maintain relationships with younger people.

This means that any approach to digital entertainment can and should be guided by the following principles:

  • Technology promotes health and physical maintenance.
  • Safety is critical for providing peace of mind, removing anxieties, fostering trust in the environment, and overcoming obstacles.
  • Participation is important, as it makes interaction and avoids passivity strengthening social bonds, and feeling like one contributes combats loneliness.
  • Lifelong learning is beneficial because it keeps the brain functioning, equips us to stay healthy, and keeps us competent and engaged in society. As a result, it empowers the elderly person to reinforce the preceding pillars. The cultural and learning opportunities provided by today's technologies give opportunities to improve the quality of life that are unprecedented in history.

How About The Digital Divide?

According to INE, Internet use decreases with age for both men and women, with the 65-74 age group having the lowest percentage (70.5% for men and 68.9% for women).

As a result, while the digital divide is shrinking, it still exists between users and non-users, which can be attributed to a variety of factors:

  • Inadequate infrastructure (particularly in rural areas where many older adults live).
  • Inadequate computer literacy and the skills required to use the technologies.
  • Lack of interest in what the information society has to offer is almost always due to a lack of knowledge.

Specific policies for digital inclusion across social classes are still needed, as it is clear that the higher one's social and cultural status, the greater one's technology use habits.

Nonetheless, the elderly's digital progress has been visible:

  • Now we have older people, in their fifties or so who are already used to using the Internet.
  • The digital infrastructure has improved with more widespread, accessible, and user-friendly networks, hardware, and software.
  • COVID-19 has clearly accelerated digitalisation in general, and among the elderly in particular: making video calls, and filling time at home.
  • The so-called "gender digital divide" is also closing, with women reportedly adopting digital technology at a slightly faster rate than men.
  • Mobile phones have reflected this increased use of technology by older people. In 2009, the difference between the age groups with the highest usage and the oldest was 33%; by 2020, and with the majority of the responses to the survey collected in the midst of the pandemic, the gap had shrunk to 5%, i.e. practically non-existent.

When the types of activities carried out by the elderly on the Internet are examined, it can be seen that the activities most frequently carried out by both men and women are:

  • Making use of instant messaging.
  • Talking on the phone.
  • Using the Internet to make video calls.
  • Looking for information on products and services.
  • E-mail reading and replying.
  • Online reading of news, newspapers, or current affairs magazines.
  • New technologies are also a great way to take care of other aspects of daily life, including exercise, but this potential has yet to be realised among the elderly. There is still a need for a digital literacy exercise that must be promoted by both public administrations and private companies interested in marketing their products and services.

Technology Applications For The Elderly

Some of the most common applications we can see for technology to improve the lives of the elderly are:

  • Communication use: the promotion of all technologies and/or applications that enable people to communicate with their loved ones. Contact with family is critical for the elderly because it improves their emotional health and keeps them from becoming socially isolated. New technologies facilitate this connection by providing a variety of tools and applications such as telephones, video calls, and so on. Also, social media. It's fascinating to see how older people use Facebook and Pinterest.
  • The application of knowledge. The consumption of digital content by older people who subscribe to various forms of media is striking.
  • Gaming. Playing online and offline games such as online casino, solitaire, simulation games, quiz games and so on.
  • Cultural application. Audiobooks, film recommendations, documentaries, music, digital cultural magazines, online radio, free virtual museum and exhibition visits, television platforms, YouTube, video games, online masses, and so on.
  • Online training, guided classes, memory exercises, and other methods to engage in physical and mental activity without leaving the house.
  • Use for pure entertainment purposes, such as digital TV platforms.