It has become common knowledge that the Internet can help to improve one’s quality of life and even allow for personal development. However, we typically associate the functions and services enabled through the Web as being for the younger crowd – the modern generation.
A recently-released study conducted amongst people aged 50+ indicates that, in fact, older people DO benefit from using the Web. Online, they are actively pursuing their passions, learning new things, and participating in their communities and interest groups!
The “Maturity on the Web” study states that the Internet helps mature persons to develop their passions and interests. Seniors use it to: read thematic studies, carry out specialized purchases such as rare plants; read books; learn languages; and to actively participate in culture. The survey revealed that, among people aged 50 and 65 years of age, the most important benefits of being a netizen are being associated with work and feeling that one is up-to-date. For most users of the Web, its common uses are to help with work, find a job, and to draw customers for products or services. For those over the age of 65, the key benefit of the Web is the possibility to overcome loneliness.
All respondents emphasized the Internet as their window on the world, and as a primary source of current information. Another important benefit of the Internet is better contact with family. Older people appreciate the email, instant messaging, and online access to photo albums of family and friends! The Internet also lets seniors renew old friendships, develop new ones, and to give them a sense of being actively involved in the world around them, and maybe be a part of a special interest group. Older Internet users appreciate the convenience offered, which provides a glimpse into transportation planning, handling of official matters, locating specialists, consumer information, etc.
Essentially, the Internet restores a sense of independence and freedom into seniors. Survey respondents noted that they are more open to each other and more tolerant of others. Respondents also reported big savings in time and money. The Internet could be used to quickly locate needed information at no cost; some even canceled their newspaper subscription as they could find everything they needed on the Web! Seniors can often enjoy savings when shopping online, and the availability of their styles and sizes – a benefit particularly important for residents of smaller cities and rural areas.
The report is titled, “Use of the Internet and the Quality of Life of 50+”, and the study was conducted on a group of 24 respondents aged 50 through 81 years living in various areas of Poland – in cities with populations of 50 through over 500,000 residents.
Is this evidence that it is worth building Web pages for this audience? Currently, this group remains small – but it should be noted that, over time, it will continue to grow as today’s 30 year olds themselves get old. Creating a website only for seniors is similar to creating a website for anyone else, save for some important considerations that take into account the limitations of the elderly.