How Has Technology Affected Senior Citizens?

Topics: Old age, Middle age, Gerontology Pages: 5 (1789 words) Published: April 8, 2013
How has Technology Affected Senior Citizens in China?

Over the last 30 years, China’s technology has developed rapidly, making life more and more convenient to many of its citizens. Mobile phones have helped to connect people all over China and computers have helped people to organize their work and share information easily. Owing to the length of time that they have spent on this Earth, senior citizens in China will have experienced two very different worlds, having seen first hand the way in which technology has advanced throughout their lifetime. How have senior citizens been affected by this rapid advancement in technology? The following essay will set out to answer this question.

A person’s circumstances change in many different ways as they become older and senior citizen’s needs will therefore be very different to middle aged and even younger members of society. Most obviously, an elderly person’s body will begin to become weaker, and their eyes ears, muscles and joints will not function as effectively as they did before. Technology has been able to assist the elderly in many of these aspects, providing glasses, hearing aids, walking aids and wheelchairs, respectively. In addition to this, medicines are becoming more and more advanced and are allowing the elderly to live longer than before. In 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) released statistics showing that the average life expectancy in 1960 was 36, compared with 74.5 in 2010.

Not only does a person’s physical situation change as they age, but also their social situation. In their middle age, most people will get married and have at least one child to devote their time to. Where children used to continue caring for their parents in their own home before, the influence of the West means that many children now prefer not to live with their parents after marrying. This, combined with the death of a spouse, can make a senior citizen’s life very lonely. Although far from compensating, technology has helped senior citizens keep in touch with their loved ones via the telephone, and more recently, skype. While not talking to their family, television and radio also provide sources of entertainment to help keep their mind occupied and stave off feelings of loneliness

However, where technology provides with one hand, it takes away with the other. Although the telephone may help to keep families connected, the quality of this connection is certainly not as rich as a personal visit. The reality is that far from enriching a senior citizen’s contact with family, the telephone does nothing but substitute a good old-fashioned weekly family gathering with a weekly phone call. In the same way, states that the average home has the TV on more than 51 hours per week, which is even more impressive when taking out time for work, school and sleep. Statistics such as these show how technology has displaced a massive part of our social life. It then becomes apparent that the time that children and grandchildren could have spent visiting parents and grandparents, are more than likely spent in front of the TV instead.

It must be appreciated that in spite of all the technology that surrounds us today, senior citizens only use a small proportion of it. Either they are too complicated for the elderly to learn, or the elderly simply choose to use more traditional methods to deal with their day to day business. At best, this simply makes the technology redundant from a senior citizen’s point of view, for they were able to cope perfectly well without it in the past. However, where technology has given us more options in most cases, there are a few cases where newer technology has actually displaced previous technology. Take for example the music industry. Over the last fifty years, music media has gone from records, to tapes, to compact discs to the MP3 players and IPods that we use today. Few senior citizens have the computer...

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