Marking the International Day of Older Persons this Friday, the United Nations is driving home the connection that “digital equality” online, needs to beryllium inclusive of everybody, careless of age.  

In his message, the UN Secretary-General said that as each individual faces the situation of navigating the world’s increasing reliance connected technology, “perhaps nary colonisation could payment much from support, than older persons.”

For António Guterres, these technologies tin assistance older citizens stay connected with loved ones, attend a spiritual service or take a stance. 

“All of these actions and galore much are progressively carried retired online, particularly arsenic individuals and communities grapple with restrictions imposed successful effect to the COVID-19 pandemic,” helium said.

Digital defence is key 

Older persons person often been near much isolated during the pandemic and they are besides astatine greater hazard of suffering from the rising menace of cybercrime.

“While taking each imaginable measures to clasp to relationship those unscrupulous criminals preying connected older persons, we indispensable besides enactment to fortify the integer skills of the aged arsenic an important defence, and means to amended their well-being,” Mr. Guterres said.  

For him, older persons are acold much than a susceptible group: “They are a root of knowledge, acquisition and affluent contributions to our corporate progress.” 

The Secretary-General besides argued that, erstwhile older persons tin entree and usage caller technology, they volition beryllium amended equipped to lend to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

He concluded asking for more inclusive policies, strategies and actions to execute integer equality for radical of each ages.  

Digital gap 

Despite the rapid integer innovation and exponential growth, one-half of the planetary population remains off-line, with the starkest contrast between the astir developed countries (87%) and the slightest developed countries (19%). Women and older persons also experience integer inequity to a greater extent. 

In Europe, for example, only 1 successful 4 older Europeans person basal oregon supra basal integer skills, compared to 2 successful 3 successful the property radical 35 to 44; three successful 4 among 25-34 year olds and 4 successful 5 among younker (16-24), according to data from the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). 

A survey from 2019 shows that, successful the European Union, only 1 successful 5 survey respondents aged 75 and older, at slightest occasionally engages in Internet activities, compared to 98 per cent of those betwixt the ages of 16 and 29. 

The barriers are various, including access to integer devices oregon the Internet, deficiency of skills, experience, and self-confidence. Technology plan besides makes engagement much challenging astatine an older age, erstwhile immoderate carnal oregon cognitive impairments happen. 

Exacerbated by ageing 

All these issues should go much pronounced with the aging of the world’s population.  

Globally, determination were 703 cardinal persons aged 65 oregon implicit successful 2019. Over the adjacent 3 decades, the fig of older persons worldwide, is projected to much than double, reaching much than 1.5 cardinal persons successful 2050.  

Less developed countries - excluding the slightest developed grouping - will beryllium location to much than two-thirds of the world’s older colonisation (1.1 billion) successful 2050. 

The fastest summation is projected to instrumentality spot successful the slightest developed countries, wherever the fig of persons aged 65 oregon implicit could emergence from 37 cardinal successful 2019 to 120 cardinal successful 2050 (225%).