Free video calls, photo-sharing, email, texting and the use of social networking sites are part of day-to-day communications with family and friends for many people later in life. Family members can help each other learn about digital technologies.
According to Forster Communications, in their Rites of passage helping people make the best of getting older report, nearly nearly half of 55 75 year olds connect to their friends with either Skype or instant messenger services, with a similar proportion spending up to 30 hours on the internet a week. The fastest growing group of Facebook users is aged 50+.
Learning about digital technologies, and using them, may bring different generations in a family closer together. Simple email lists, like Google groups, can create new connections with neighbours.
Discussion in the Gransnet forum brought home how important digital technologies can be in later life, as part of family life - and how a lot more could be done to make them easier to use and more relevant.
One participant said: I never thought I would embrace technology but now I could not be without emails, smart phones, skype etc. My sister lives in Martinique we communicate regularly both having such different lives. I take photos on my mobile of the grandchildren send them to the family because we live in deepest Devon they don’t very often see them.
But another added: All of us on Gransnet are computer literate, but out there there are thousands of grans/grandads who are not. I have never sent a text. I have been shown what to do but even with glasses I can hardly read the small digital print and arthritic fingers mean I am clumsy with the small buttons and I am only 66!
Challenge: how can we co-design digital technologies for later life by looking more closely at the many different ways they are used in home settings, and for communications between family and friends.\ Comments, resources and links to ideas on Storify - and embedded below\ View the story “8 Use digital tech to enhance existing connections” on Storify