The digital divide and social exclusion

     March 3, 2014
    By Javier Garcia

    We live in an increasingly connected world, in which more and more aspects of our social relationships are moving to the virtual sphere. It is no longer just about being able to stay in touch with friends or have conversations with relatives far away, or even about exercising the right to civic participation through new technologies. Indeed, operations which were previously impossible to do via a computer or mobile phone are progressively being transferred to such means irremediably. In some cases, this happens to the point that we can be penalised for not using them, as is the case of receiving invoices or paying for certain services.

    This context, commonly assumed by most of society, isolates a significant part of the population, who are unintentionally denied access to new technologies. In particular, elderly people are often separated from the rest of society by the so-called digital divide, which prevents them from enjoying multiple advances that could, undoubtedly, improve their quality of life. What is more, they are at risk from being pushed out of a society that, given its education and habits, is advancing at an increasingly rapid rate.

    Information and communication technologies are there to improve people’s quality of life from a social perspective, but also have much to offer in other aspects of our lives too, which is why we must make an effort to ensure they reach the whole of society. Therefore, Kwido is making new technologies available for elderly care, allowing their intuitive operation which requires no specific knowledge by older users, whilst facilitating the work of those in charge of their welfare, such as carers, geriatric professionals, doctors, or even family members.

    With forecasts predicting that by 2050 the number of 65-year-olds will double those under the age of 15 in the European Union, making technological advances available to our elders is no longer just a question of intergenerational justice, but pure social and economic necessity. The relevance of this issue has driven projects like SEACW (Social Ecosystem for Antiaging, Capacitation and Well-being), which aims to achieve active and healthy ageing, as well as promoting the social extension of digital skills.

    Ideable Solutions, in addition to developing the elderly care platform Kwido, is focusing its efforts on creating accessibility solutions for new technologies for the elderly and intellectually disabled, aiming for a future without digital divides and, consequently, more fair and equal. For though the Internet and smartphones already form a part of our everyday lives, this shouldn’t imply excluding the elderly from them.