More than 60% of those over the age of 65 use their mobile phones frequently and on a daily basis, as opposed to many age-related biases that typically stem from the image of grandma fiddling with a smartphone. However, the digital transformation of society is progressing so quickly, it often does not take into account those who cannot keep up. In fact, “80% of retirees feel lost or lonely when they have to face a digital procedure,” says Lucia Velasco, economist and author of Want to Create an Algorithm? The main obstacles are access to administration and digital banks, two essential aspects of their lives – health and pensions.
This expert points out that this “staying behind” means seeing the exercise of their rights as citizens diminished. “It causes them to feel isolated and excluded, they feel depressed, and they enter into episodes of frustration – the specialist emphasizes. And in the end, this gap generates more dependence.”
According to Velasco, technology-mediated processes end up generating digital divides between those who can use it and those who cannot. “People over 65 are in the worst off category: this does not mean that they reject digital transformation, but it is not meant for them.”
Designers develop devices and systems from their own point of view and from the point of view of the people responsible for testing them. In this way, a large part of the population is excluded. “The criterion is that one is healthy, can see perfectly, has a large screen, good connectivity and battery on mobile, and knows how to navigate the web intuitively,” he says. “Some of these characteristics are no longer available after age 65.”
Remove previous appointment
In recent years, procedures with administration have become increasingly digital. Although this met the criteria for effectiveness and efficiency, repeated complaints and protests by groups alerted institutions that this shift did not take older people into account.
For months, Greuges unionist Esther Jiménez Salinas has demanded from all administrations that prior appointment should not be a condition for access to citizen welfare and registration offices. Last July, the General Government issued a decree ending compulsory appointment.
Likewise, banking institutions are increasingly betting on digital transformation: ATMs and mobile banking have replaced face-to-face service. There are fewer bank branches, and the operating hours of those remaining are reduced to a few hours a day. “The bank started saying that we should not go to the counter, but to the tellers. The time has come when the branches became business-only,” complains Luis Goache, a 74-year-old retiree who advocates for workers' rights. Older people facing digitalization
“People who have been loyal customers for years now find themselves powerless,” Goash explains. “I've seen people crying in front of the cashier, because they don't know how to do transactions.” It also condemns the digitization of public administration. “The digital divide can mean a significant level of dependency: many self-employed older people need help or rely on children or relatives to run errands.”
Hospitalite resident Loly Hurtado, 92, blames the disappearance of branches in the neighborhood. “When my husband died, there were three banks. Now there are none.” There are only ATMs left, and her family is afraid to withdraw money on the street for fear of being robbed. Now it is up to the son to manage the money.
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