Not Enough Elderly Koreans Can Access Mobile Services

      June 22, 2021 08:22

      Many elderly Koreans are cut off from mobile services even if they have a smartphone because they do not know how to use it.

      The Chosun Ilbo checked up on 50 senior citizens in Seoul earlier this month and found that most were not making the best use of their smartphones. Only 34 use them at all, but only nine of them said they knew how to download apps by themselves.

      They had an average of 49 apps on their phones, which is plenty, but around 35 of them come pre-installed with the phone. By contrast, people in their 20s have 128 apps installed.

      Most of the seniors admitted that they only bought the phone because that was what was available and use it chiefly to text, watch YouTube videos and look at pictures. Many are unable to use financial apps, shopping and even social media on their phone.

      The difference translates into a gap in the quality of life. A person in his or her 20s can use their smartphones to make hospital appointments, transfer money and order food, but senior citizens are often more isolated.

      An elderly woman learns how to text on a smartphone in Seoul on June 14.

      According to a recent study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 74.1 percent of senior citizens said they feel inconvenienced by the fact that services are offered mainly online. They also complain that downloading apps is too difficult. Even if they have accounts on Google, Apple or Samsung, they often forget their passwords. The print on the screen is also difficult to read for old eyes.

      Park Seung-hee at Sungkyunkwan University said, "Senior citizens have problems using their smartphones largely because they live apart from their children, so they have nobody to help them."

      Those interviewed by the Chosun Ilbo are frustrated that they are seen as too lazy or stubborn to learn how to use their phones. There are very few facilities that teach them, their children easily get bored having to explain things and their peers are often equally stumped.

      One 71-year-old said, "My son taught me how to use an app, but I forgot quickly and he sounds irritated when I ask him again and he's so busy."

      Some children discourage their elderly parents from using their phones because they are afraid they will fall for scams or make costly mistakes. One 81-year-old said, "My children who are in their 40s asked me not to make any financial transactions on my phone. They warned me against signing up for any services because I might have my identity stolen."

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