IT 4 Seniors During COVID

With the world population getting older over time and IT systems getting more prevalent than ever. A few problems arise one of which has been named the ‘digital divide’, this is where people that are not capable of using digital systems get more and more detached from those who are able to use these systems. This only becomes more noticeable when you consider that many things require you to make use of digital means, this can be simple things that suddenly become a problem. Things like making an appointment to go to the barber or doing your banking. These are all examples of the digital divide, this is the split between people being able to understand and use digital means and those who do not. Also, communication gets evermore digital meaning the digital divide is driving loneliness especially with seniors. In 2020 a large pandemic hit which forced people to stay inside their homes. During this lockdown, it is becoming more and more apparent how important these systems can be to keep seniors engaged with their friends and families. The goal of the research is to show the need and willingness of seniors to overcome the digital divide that has only become more visible during the Covid lockdown. Using E-Learning to gain the abili8es to overcome this gap.

The goal of this research is to show ways to help senior citizens overcome this gap with the use of online learning. This will help these people overcome big and growing issues that oUen lead to large personal problems and isolation. To reach this goal we have interviewed many seniors about issues they run into during this period to see what the main challenges would be. In addition to this we showed the seniors videos teaching them potential solutions to these issues as well as being able to show us if they learn from these videos. Using this information, we conclude whether seniors learn from these online learning methods.


1. What are challenges seniors experience during Covid lockdown

From the interviews we had done it was clear there were two primary challenges experienced during the covid lockdown.

1. Shopping

2. Contact with family members

To solve this, big steps can also be taken as only one of the interviewed seniors made use of online shopping. This is the reason why the research proceeds to focus primarily on increasing this group to solve this issue. The arguably more challenging of the two issues, however, is the contact with family members. Where people can no longer have events with much of the family it is clear that many struggle with this.

2. What are digital services that can help seniors

To help seniors solve these before men8oned challenges we have noted mul8ple services that are able to help. Most grocery stores have an online shopping service which with some practice many seniors can use. This would largely solve the issue of shopping however, a big challenge is ge:ng this information to the seniors. Contact with family is trickier as services such as whatsapp and social media are able to help this will never fully be able to replace in person contact. Which is why we conclude that the best op8on for this are video calling services. These allow seniors to stay in contact with family in a much more personal way than messaging or normal calling.

3. Do seniors learn from online learning sources

From the results of chapter three it becomes apparent that seniors can learn from online video resources when given a reason to do so. However, the hardest part is ge:ng the content to the seniors, due to them having a small online presence. Another thing these results show is the motivation which most seniors to test what they had just learned with only one of the seniors saying that they had just not goaen to using the informa8on a week after being shown the video’s.

4. How can digital services help seniors during the Covid lockdown

AUer looking at the results of the ques8onnaires we are able to define a couple issues that seniors struggle with during this Covid crisis. With the most prevalent of these being loneliness and not being able to be with family/friends. Followed by grocery shopping and boredom.

There are services that can help these seniors however, the hardest part is teaching them how to use these. Which is what E-Learning videos such as those made by IT4Senioren are especially useful for. From the research we were able to see almost 65% of seniors using the learned informaton within a week of learning this.

 Download full report

Dr. Hani Al-Ers
Senior Researcher
Hani Al-Ers is a researcher in the field of human-machine interactions. He completed his PhD at Delft University of Technology at the Interactive Intelligence group of the Faculty Computer Science (EEMCS). Philips Research in Eindhoven sponsored his project which was aimed at improving the user experience of Philips tv sets. He completed 2 post-docs at Delft University of Technology, during which he managed international consortia on topics such as an improved quality of life for the elderly. Currently he is conducting research in the field of health and education and he leads the Research Education activities at the Dutch Innovation Factory.