Overcoming barriers to Digital Inclusion for Older Persons

Event Proceedings

September 22, 2021

The ability to connect online has grown into a crucial part of everyday life for people all over the world, helping empower citizens and improve their daily lives through everything from virtual medical visits to maintaining family connections and online advocacy for protecting human rights. However, many older persons are unable to reap the benefits of the digital world or access basic health, financial, and social tools.

While hundreds of millions went online over the past five years, almost half of the world’s population still lacks access to the internet. In some low-income countries, fewer than one in five people were connected in 2019. Data shows that many older adults have online access, but often fail to fully utilize digital tools due to barriers such as usability, awareness, adoption support, and trust. Without improving digital inclusion, this threatens to widen inequality and exacerbate the digital divide. It’s imperative that digital solutions do not exclude older persons if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals while leaving no-one behind. But there are many sides to the digital divide — related to age, disability, gender, geography, and socioeconomic status. Older people in particular often face barriers including digital literacy and inclusive design — an issue that will become more prominent as the world’s population ages. By 2050, it is estimated that more than 2 billion people will be aged 60 or over, more than double the number in the year 2000.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Devex and AARP co-hosted an ecosystem event on the sidelines of the 76th annual United Nations General Assembly, exploring how we can advance digital equity and inclusion by looking at solutions to close existing gaps among different user groups, particularly older persons. The event also looked at the key role of multi-stakeholder platforms in advancing the U.N. Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and their role in harnessing expertise and knowledge sharing from across sectors.

Stay informed and connected by joining the Network for the Digital Inclusion of Older Persons