The digital gap – teaching technology to older employees

Here the team at Maplewave, whose revolutionary retail management software has changed the way customers approach their in-store shopping, offer advice on helping the over 50s to embrace the digital revolution. This can only help the older members of your team, and customers who are over 50, to become more familiar with today’s technology and close the digital gap.

You may have heard of the culture barrier, which creates confusion between two generations, but there also exists a digital barrier – a very contemporary and concerning problem that continues to grow. As many of us will recall, the only webs around in the 70s were made by spidersand being born before 1990 meant that you weren’t brought up surrounded by the internet. Even the over 30s have had to grasp digital communication pretty quickly. And this digital gap continues to increase as the years go on, with those born after the millennium being the first cohort to be truly surrounded by technology in their upbringing. 

The digital gap

Both an economic and social inequality, the digital divide is becoming an increasing problem not only for the elderly but for all generations. Although once it was due to financial inequalities disabling the access to technology, it has now shifted towards a knowledge gap. Once connected to their devices, the information presented to them instantly becomes a barrier.

Although efforts are being doubled when it comes to new advancements in technology, the difference between available jobs and the skills required for them is widening. Thus, creates the digital gap, where the demand for digital skills has outstripped the supply. With predictions that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require an element of digital skills to a sufficient degree, so the efforts to bridge that gap is gaining pace.

Accepting new technology

It’s easy for the younger generations to grasp new developments in technology as it’s all they’ve ever known, they know the processes inside and out and can adapt out intuitiveness to suit the seemingly perpetual developments. Closing the digital gap – an ipad being used by an older lady

So, for those that didn’t go through childhood and adolescence whilst the digital boom was underway, learning about what the latest technology has to offer can be an intimidating experience. Generation X would’ve felt intimidated by the thought of learning how to use Microsoft Excel, now, it’s more virtual reality, voice-activated domestic robots and wireless charging. 

A great way of bridging the gap between developments is building on existing knowledge. If the senior is already familiar with an aspect, use analogies like referring links to webpages to roads to other cities or web addresses to street addresses.

The language of the internet

Technologically-orientated words such as “selfie” or “emoji” may have made their way into the Oxford Dictionaries at the displeasure of traditionalists, but that’s an indication of how much influence the internet has had on our lexicon. As digital natives, we have adopted this as if it were a second skin, so when it comes to communicating with the elderly on the topic of technology, be sure to use simplified language.

Although using jargon is usually done to make the explanation process more concise, it can stall or confuse the listener and cause the teaching to slow down.

Essential skills

With an estimated one in five over 50s feeling as though they are being left behind by technology, it’s important for that demographic, which by 2050 will make up around half of the population, to begin coming to terms with the digital revolution. There are fears that millions of over 50s are struggling with economic inactivity as a result of poor digital skills.

It goes beyond just the financial aspects too, elements of loneliness and feeling out-of-sync with family members can often occur if the older generation hasn’t yet made the switch to the likes of Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp. All of which being visual or verbal communicative apps where users can video or message each other from anywhere in the world – providing they have a stable internet connection. It’s especially great for connecting during family times like Christmas or birthdays if one of the family members can’t be there.

Although generally industry and business welcome fresh innovation with open arms, it is worth noting that the consumers don’t move as quickly to match the pace.

For technology which closes the digital gap, see

April 11, 2019

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