Technologically Excluded

Health Technology

Almost everything is electronic these days, from banking to treatment that we receive. Yet as the world moves in a fast pace forward technologically, a lot of people are left behind. See, if you are not financially privileged, educated or lack access, then you are left behind, and that means in terms of opportunities such as job prospects, medical treatment etc.

Whether we want to admit it or not technology is biased, due to its inaccessibility to everyone, that means only a few people are able to influence it – it is created based on the perspective of a few.

During my schooling years – 10 years ago -the world has been defined as a global village: we are more connected than ever through technology. However, according to the 2020 report issued by Internet World Stats, out of the 7.5 billion population, only 4.9 billion people have access to the internet. 7.5-4.9 means nearly half of the population is left out.

The advancement of technology has a long list of benefits, but not everyone will access them. This advancement also offers opportunities to close the gap between socio-economic classes. But the promotion of it tends to focus on a certain age group only.

Technology is not only for the young, up-and-coming “future of our country” people only, but also for the old, mature “people with wisdom” cohort, the “seen that, done it, got the t-shirt” kind of people. There is so much benefits we can get if the older population were included much as the younger population.  By including this type of population when creating technological solutions, we are expanding the technology, we are thinking out of the box, we are covering all bases, that will be very beneficial to the developer themselves, as well as the population that will use this technology.

My argument stems from the fact that technology is promoted to young people only, as you think about it anything that seeks to advance the country, its economy and/or its people the message is directed to the young and economically active people. In the African continent, this means excluding half the population, because even the old population are still economically active due to their poor socioeconomic status, that is they cannot afford to retire even if they want to, not only that, a research study conducted at the University of Cape Town, state that in South Africa in 2018, nearly 4 million children live with their grandparents, So what does this mean? young peoples perspectives and outlook in life is still greatly influenced by the older population, may it be advice on subject/course choice to policy making. In my opinion I say technology promotion should also focus on the older population. During the Visibility STEM Africa, STEM for us by us conference, Dr Tana Joseph during her talk she said that children choices are highly influenced by their parents(I might add grandparents) opinions. That means a highly knowledged guardian will open up the child to a wide variety of opportunities, even through the guardian did not have the opportunity to experience these opportunities but the conversation and motivation between them and the child will be different.

By introducing technology to the older generation, we are creating a wholesome environment for the child, an environment that will encourage their thought, ideas and growth. Lastly, an inclusive technology allows for a healthy environment for respect and tolerance.

With age comes with being unconsciously being excluded from society, family moves away, and you are not as mobile as you once were, thus loneliness sets in. As social species, human connection is vital for our mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7% of people over the age of 60 suffer from depression, and 3.8% from anxiety, and the main contributors are loneliness and isolation to name a few. Nothing can replace human/ person-to-person interaction, but with social media and /or digital connection to a certain degree we can stay connected, and we can feel less lonely this was evident during the pandemic. Thus promoting digital connection to the older population may be a way to lessen the loneliness, and help them become more in touch with their loved ones

As innovators we should not shy away from the sociological aspect of technological innovation and advancement, because 10 years down the line we will still be having the same conversation as 10 years ago.

Photo Credit: JW.Org

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