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Smartphone generation should wait for the elderly to catch up

China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-01 08:16
SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

The widespread application of internet technology has made our lives easier but poses a big challenge to senior citizens, who are not always comfortable with smartphones and so many new apps.

Only a few senior citizens are able to enjoy the benefits that new technologies offer. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of people aged 60 and above was 253.88 million in 2019, that is 18.1 percent of China's population. But only 23 percent of the senior citizens were able to access the internet. That means more than three-fourths of the elderly are deprived of the digital dividends.

Failure to access the internet or use smartphones has increased difficulties for them. They cannot even hail a cab easily in this era of app cabs. There have been reports of many shops turning away elders who don't know how to pay using smartphones, instead of letting them pay with cash.

Many elders who can't use smartphones are facing difficulties during this pandemic, as they cannot access the internet-based health code required for entry into many public places as part of the epidemic prevention and control measures.

New technologies become popular because they are often of great use in our daily lives. But many senior citizens, especially those living in rural areas or those whose grownup children don't live with them, cannot access the internet or smartphones, either because of financial constraints or because they cannot learn new things beyond a certain point. The digital gap between the elderly and the young is becoming more pronounced.

However, the senior citizens should not become a silent group deprived of digital benefits. It is society's responsibility to help them bridge the digital gap, and be patient with them when they face difficulties catching up.

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