Improving e-gadgets to help the elderly is a profitable necessity

Updated 2017-09-14 10:30:16 China Daily

Many senior citizens in China are struggling to adapt to advanced electronic gadgets, such as hire-on-demand car-hailing apps on their mobile phones and self-checkout machines in supermarkets. They should not be left behind in the pursuit of "e-life", Guangzhou Daily commented on Wednesday:

Few would disagree that China is among the leaders of internet-driven innovation and intellectual entrepreneurship. While the country's younger generations seamlessly harmonize with smarter, more cost-effective ways of life, the elderly find it difficult to do so.

Many senior citizens who use smartphones refrain from going further than making phone calls or sending messages, leaving many functions and apps underused, and there are very few mobile phone applications developed for senior citizens only. Compared with the "digital generations", older generations are less likely to take a cab using car-hailing platforms. Nor do they bother to use third-party payment apps and make appointments with doctors online.

The senior citizens' struggle to accept digitized lifestyles has a lot to do with their painfully long learning curve when it comes to "new things", and the elderly-unfriendly nature of most smart devices and services.

For example, smart household appliances connected to cellphones and available for remote control, have made inroads into an increasing number of Chinese families. But their confusing user manuals and "glamorous" versatility go beyond the basic needs of senior citizens, who also have trouble trusting third-party payment apps.

So helping the elderly to use such devices and apps should be part of the efforts to improve public services. Self-assistance machines in public places should come with detailed instructions that make sense to the elderly. And community service should include sessions to teach senior citizens how to use smart devices.

The needs of the aging population will increase over time. At the end of 2015, China had about 222 million citizens aged 60 or above, or more than 16 percent of the total population. The number is expected to increase to 480 million by 2050. So improving the products and services that suit senior citizens' needs is not just necessary but also profitable.

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