Tablets help seniors cross the 'digital divide,' study shows

Recent research has shown the use of tablet computers among elders has helped them break the barrier of the “digital divide.”

Elders who used tablets felt more confident with technology overall, according to a study conducted by Shelia Cotten Ph.D., professor of media and information at Michigan State.

Not only are tablets small, lightweight and portable, they are easy-to-use at any age. The simple touch screen helps elderly hands maneuver quickly without having to struggle to use a mouse, Cotten explained.  Even with little computer experience, seniors caught on quickly, especially with the help of family members, she added.

Aside from reducing tech-anxiety, using tablets is beneficial to seniors' health. With the Internet at their fingertips, they can access health information, medical records and more. It has also shown to help ward off depression by making it easier to connect with loved ones.

While technology has become more prominent in the long-term care industry for staff members, facilities may want to start to consider supplying tablets to residents to keep them digitally connected. In fact, Apple, IBM and Japan Post have recently collaborated to get more older adults using tablets in Japan.

“It's all about older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks and just not feel lonely,” Cotten said.