How Leaps In Technology Have Impacted The Over 50s
The fear of becoming obsolete or outdated can hit us all once we reach the age of 50.
As we enter our middle years, some of us may begin to feel a tad anxious about our position in a rapidly evolving world.
We might worry about losing our relevance, both professionally and within social circles, as younger generations appear to dominate technology and contemporary trends.
With the likes of ChatGPT making many roles in workplaces obsolete and altering the very foundation of communication in society, how will this all affect us over 50s?
Will it have an impact on our mental health?
How Technology Impacts The Middle Aged
Recent advances in communication technology have allowed older adults to easily connect with family and friends, reducing loneliness and enhancing their quality of life.
It has also improved banking and healthcare sectors.
Online banking and digital transactions provide convenience and accessibility for seniors, simplifying financial management.
Despite these benefits, technology is a primary cause of anxiety among the elderly.
Constant changes and improvements in technology can be difficult for older adults to keep up with and feel confident about adapting to.
Technology can become overwhelming
This could become overwhelming for them, leading to frustration, anxiety, and self-doubt.
Seniors might also be vulnerable to scams, cyberattacks, and online fraud due to their unfamiliarity with cybersecurity practices.
Limited experience navigating the digital world could make them more susceptible to deceitful schemes.
Many older individuals have experienced cyber-scams – cases where they purchased products from certain websites that were never delivered or encountered fraudulent callers.
Social media may exacerbate isolation
Ironically, while technology promotes connectivity, it may also cause social isolation for older adults.
If they believe they are unable to keep up with technological advancements, they might withdraw from digital interactions because they no longer feel capable of contributing meaningfully.
Is This Technological Gap Widening?
The generational gap in technological proficiency often leads to a preference for younger employees who are more adept with technology than seniors.
Professionals over 50 may lose their positions in favour of younger and more technologically proficient workers.
Such job losses can lead to financial stress, anxiety, and self-doubt about their abilities.
As one counselling psychologist explains, “Financial stress can become a major concern for the elderly due to perceived obsolescence, leading to potential financial insecurity, particularly when they rely on their job as their primary means of support.
Not feeling self-reliant exacerbates anxiety.
There is a negative impact on one’s self-identity because it relies on their roles and responsibilities at work, and losing that leads to self-doubt and a feeling of uselessness.”
Negative stereotypes in media about aging and technology can perpetuate the belief that seniors are technologically inept or out of touch.
Stereotypical ‘insults’ such as being referred to as ‘an analog person in a digital world’ can contribute to feelings of redundancy and lead to psychological distress.
These feelings can trigger anxiety and depression, which might eventually affect their physical health.
How This Can Impact The Socioeconomic Factor
Socioeconomic factors significantly influence how individuals perceive and adapt to technological changes.
Interconnected challenges faced by people depend on these factors.
Navigating through difficult situations becomes even harder where socioeconomic status comes into play.
As urbanization increases and nuclear families become more common, some elderly individuals may perceive themselves as less significant members of the family unit.
Traditional Knowledge can Be Eroded
In many communities, traditional knowledge and skills are highly prized.
However, technology’s advancement may eclipse the importance of these traditional skills, leading older generations to feel inadequate and redundant.
Language barriers may make it difficult for older individuals primarily speaking regional languages with limited exposure to more universally-spoken languages to access and utilize technology, resulting in alienation.
This perception can lead to diminished self-worth and a decline in self-confidence.
Consequently, they may avoid new experiences or opportunities, feeling reluctant to adopt new technologies or participate in new activities.
The fear of being left behind can also contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially if their abilities and knowledge are no longer perceived as relevant.
Some seniors may be resistant to embracing new technologies, trends, or ideas, fearing that doing so will cause them to appear outdated and hinder personal growth and adaptation.
“This emotional burden may affect their mental health, potentially leading to symptoms of depression or anxiety,” warns one expert.
We need to recognize that individuals over 50 possess a wealth of life experience and wisdom.
Encouraging age-inclusive attitudes can help dispel doubts and uncertainty, that can arise when someone is middle-aged.
So moving forward we need to accept that there is a role for everyone in the workplace. And use our combined skills and life experience to enhance the technological age that we’re living in,