The world of IT (Information Technology), including the Internet and smart devices, was considered to be exclusive to the young. These days, however, it is not uncommon to see senior citizens using technology. Increasingly more senior citizens are communicating with their friends and family via textual media, such as KakaoTalk, and sharing their lives on Facebook and Instagram. An increase in social media usage among seniors has even resulted in a new word, “silver surfer,” referring to elderly people who are skilled at operating smart devices and are regular or enthusiastic Internet users.
For older citizens, due to the busy lifestyle of the modern family, shared family time has dropped significantly, leading to an increase in social isolation among the elderly. Yet now, thanks to smartphones, elderly people can stay in contact with their families at all times. Moreover, the easiness of online shopping and entertainment has improved the quality of many seniors’ lives.
|[Seniors on smartphones; Photo by Julia Lee]|
To get a better understanding of this phenomenon, I interviewed two older residents in my neighborhood: Mrs. Kim-Kyung-Sook and Dr. Lee-Sung-Hee. Mrs. Kim, a retired elementary school teacher who is in her early eighties, said she is using Facebook to communicate with her church friends after taking trips together or having church events. Mrs. Kim said “After using Facebook, I feel like I am actively communicating with friends and society more. Before utilizing Facebook, I felt lonely and isolated. However, now, I feel more active and energetic in communicating with people often”. Dr. Lee, who works at a private company and is in his mid-sixties, recently started a YouTube channel to share his political views. He commented, “You know what? Today is the time of YouTube, so if you do not start your YouTube channel, you will be fossilized soon, even if you are young”. He recommended that I get my own channel.
While visiting a computer class for senior citizens held at Jinyoung High School, I had the chance to interview a student who asked to remain unnamed. When I asked why he was taking the class, he said, “My grandchildren first taught me how to use KakaoTalk and how to view pictures on it. Then, they taught me how to see their posts on Instagram and how to navigate YouTube just in case I get bored. Now, I want to learn how to use a computer so that I can use it on my own without help. I want to make a blog so that I can share my favorite poems and pictures with others”.
|[Photo of Computer Class for Silver Citizens at Jinyoung High School; Photo by Julia Lee]|
The emergence of silver surfers, who are adapting quickly to the digital era and representing an increasingly large portion of social media users, is an unexpected and welcome change. Many senior citizens still face challenges in utilizing the Internet and smart devices. Some claim that the development of technology is too fast for them to be able to catch up and adapt to the changes. However, through smartphone and computer classes hosted by Elderly Welfare Centers and Lifelong Education Centers, we expect to see a greater number of silver surfers communicating with the world in the near future.
Julia (Eunseo) Lee
Junior (Grade 11)
Chadwick International School
Julia (Eunseo) Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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