Growing Older in a Digital World: Maintaining Digital Presence and Addressing Challenges of Technology and Security

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The growing use of technology and the increasing reliance on digital platforms have revolutionised how we live and communicate. As we age, the need to maintain our digital presence becomes more critical, especially as technology and security measures continue to evolve. This blog post explores the challenges of growing older in a digital world and the strategies we can adopt to maintain our online presence. It also examines the possibility of adding delegates to our online accounts and the implications for data protection measures such as GDPR.

Growing Older in a Digital World
As we grow older, our cognitive and physical abilities tend to decline, making navigating technology and security measures more challenging. This is particularly true for older people with limited technology experience or physical disabilities that make it harder to use digital devices. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, only 73% of adults aged 65 and older use the internet, compared to 99% of adults aged 18 to 29 (Perrin, 2019).

In addition to the challenges of using technology, older people are more vulnerable to cyber threats such as identity theft, phishing scams, and other forms of online fraud. This is because older adults tend to be more trusting and less aware of the risks of using digital platforms (Brooke & Ngwenyama, 2016).

Maintaining Digital Presence as We Age
Despite these challenges, it is essential to maintain our digital presence as we age. This is because digital platforms have become integral to our lives, allowing us to stay connected with family and friends, access information and services, and engage in online communities.

One strategy to maintain our digital presence is to adopt user-friendly technology designed specifically for older people. For example, there are now devices such as smartphones and tablets with larger screens, simplified interfaces, and voice assistants that can make it easier for older adults to use technology (Drewnowski & Rehm, 2018).

Another strategy is to stay informed about the latest security measures and cyber threats. This can involve taking online courses or attending workshops that provide information about online safety and security. It can also involve using multi-factor authentication and other security measures to protect our online accounts from unauthorised access (Zhang et al., 2018).

Adding Delegates to Online Accounts
Another solution that can help older people maintain their digital presence is to allow them to add delegates to their online accounts. Delegates are individuals authorised to access an account on behalf of the account holder. This can be particularly useful for older people who may have difficulty navigating security measures or need assistance managing their online accounts.

However, there are some potential challenges and implications for data protection measures such as GDPR. For example, allowing delegates to access personal data on behalf of an account holder raises questions about data ownership, consent, and accountability. It is essential to ensure that the account holder explicitly authorises any delegate access and that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data.

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain our digital presence, even as technology and security measures continue to evolve. Strategies such as using user-friendly technology, staying informed about cyber threats, and adding delegates to online accounts can help older people stay connected and engaged in a digital world. However, it is crucial to consider the implications of data protection measures such as GDPR and to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data. Technology we design today must be forward thinking and work for us as we grow older, if we are developing products, applications, technologies or setting standards we have the responsibility to design for everyone.

Brooke, J., & Ngwenyama, O. (2016). Age-related differences in information security awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 568-578.

Drewnowski, A., & Rehm, C. D. (2018). The potential of technology to help older adults with socialisation. Current Opinion in Psychiatry,