Get grandpa going with some extra RAM: Don't skimp on PCs for seniors, tabloid advises


With growing numbers of companies allowing, or even encouraging teleworking, the past two years have seen a boom in sales of computers and peripherals. 

Some aspects of the new lifestyles are likely to continue even after the pandemic is over, particularly in the case of seniors, one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19.

If there's a silver lining to the pandemic, observes Yukan Fuji's "Smart Life, Real Life" column (Jan 8), it would be that thanks to home computing, the impact on older individuals, in terms of both lifestyles and work, has been held to a minimum.

To name one example, many aspects of one's interactions with society can now be accomplished online, without taking a step outside one's door.

And this, the tabloid says, is happy news for older people. Even if their physical mobility has declined, they are able to interact with younger people, with some even giving as good as they get.

One point that hasn't received the attention it deserves, however, is whether or not the personal computers, smartphones, etc, used by seniors for their communications are up to the task in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

The writer notes that in earlier times, to paraphrase Gen Douglas MacArthur, it might have been better for old soldiers to die than to have to watch them just fade away. But in this day and age, more people are still enjoying healthy lives past the age of 100, and the QOL (quality of life) in their remaining years is an important issue.

The coronavirus pandemic has expedited humanity's relationship with the metaverse. With the sharp decrease in the number of people who go out from their homes, newer and more effective ways are needed to prevent their communications from becoming diluted.

This may seem obvious, but the duration in which major changes occur is remarkably brief. Over the past 10 years, for example, personal computers have evolved exponentially. Their applications today were beyond the scope of imagination five decades ago. Once regarded by some as no more than "fancy toys," the incredible notebook PCs and smartphones of today were only just making their appearances 10 years ago.

Looking back on these changes, we're only talking the span of a quarter century. Remember, the now-defunct Windows 95 went on sale in 1995. Around the same time, users flocked to home electronics retailers to buy CD-ROM drives.

Behind seniors in the advanced aged segment (75 years old and above), are those in the 65-to-74-year age segment, and for these people, a good computer is a worthwhile investment that will stimulate them into taking up all kinds of new challenges.

Start with a large monitor and robustly constructed keyboard. Seniors so equipped will be able to see information that they might overlook on a phone or laptop.

A desktop computer will give them the confidence to reserve tables at restaurants, make purchases online and complete various applications. They'll also be able to enjoy ebooks and videos, as well as music. Naturally to get the most from all of these and others, a high-speed broadband connection will be a must.

One more incentive for making sure seniors have the means of getting the most from their computer systems is that by so doing, they'll become more independent from the younger set, which will give them a sense of greater fulfillment.

Business magazine Shukan Diamond (Jan 15) took a look at the younger age segment of computer users in Japan and came away with a worrisome finding. In international comparisons, Japan's younger generation is lagging far behind other countries in computer usage. The PISA 2018 survey conducted by OECD compared the percentages of 15-year-olds who spend one to two hours per day doing their homework on personal computers. Topping the list was Denmark, with 74.1%, followed by Australia (69.9%), New Zealand (69.2%), the U.S. (68.7%), the U.K. (67.2%) and Thailand (66.5%). South Korea, at 51.3%, was still above the 44.9% average of all countries surveyed. And Japan? At rock bottom at only 9.1%.

Educator Toru Funatsu, manager of the bilingual TLC for Kids in Honolulu and author of "Bring up Your Children to World Standards" (Diamond-sha, 1,650 yen) advocates that children ages 4 to 6 years should be coached on how to input text and perform calculations; those ages 6 to 9 years should know the basics of programs like MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint; and those ages 10 to 12 should be familiar with methods of online study and proper etiquette on social networks.

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The writer notes that in earlier times, to paraphrase Gen Douglas MacArthur, it might have been better for old soldiers to die than to have to watch them just fade away. 

If Gen. MacArthur had been alive in the 21st century, he might have said, "Old hackers never die, they just get whacked into irrelevance by IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems).

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-Japan's younger generation is lagging far behind other countries in computer usage.

Other countries are all worrying that their kids are spending too much time online.

Older people often find computers and the net very difficult to use. Endless scare stories in the media have led them to believe that they are only one wrong click away from losing the entire contents of their bank account to hackers or being arrested for seeing something they should not. Many don't have the dexterity, grip, concentration or eyesight for much tech, especially smartphones with tiny screens and tiny buttons. They don't understand the jargon and do not know what to do.

Mainstream, so-called 'public service' TV networks have consistently failed to broadcast basic instruction on the use of computers, software and apps. The BBC have had little such programming since the 1980s. But they have run internet scare stories every week for decades.

Many older people don't know what to do when something doesn't work as it should on a computer, which is common with tech. They blame themselves, when it is usually not their fault.

Apple promoted the belief that the WIMP interface was in some mystical way inherently easy to use. Some kids found it easy - unsurprisingly, easier than MS-DOS - and they extrapolated from that. It is not inherently easy to use and many older people find it difficult as you may do differential equations.

There are limitations on how far tech can pervade society. A percentage of people (and not just the old) will not be able to use it. If we do not ensure that they have an alternative, we will be arrogantly and lazily excluding them from society, whilst pretending to be inclusive.

Supermarket chains are starting to open stores that only accept payment by app. This should be illegal. All stores should be required by law to accept legal tender so that those who cannot afford/use tech, or do not have restrictive subscriptions, are not locked out of them. It is shamefully cruel to lock people out of society in this manner.

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What a condescending headline. Grandpas today were the ones who built hardware, chips, architecture, wrote the code still used today, built the Internet, etc.

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