Researchers urge tech companies to reach out to seniors

Whether it is through social media, surfing the Web or purchasing the latest mobile devices, older adults are more tech-savvy than ever before. This shift in senior living has become readily apparent, but researchers say that the IT industry is largely ignoring the retired population in terms of making hardware and software that cater to the unique needs of this demographic. A new study published in the International Journal of Intercultural Information Management hints that seniors are among the most likely groups to purchase the latest technology.

The findings shed light on seniors' behavior online, and have revealed that it's much the same as younger generations. For instance, older adults go shopping, research interesting topics, stay in touch with friends and family, and even head to Twitter. Where their behavior differs, however, is that seniors may face mental and physical changes that could make it more difficult for them to read the small print on a smartphone or using a tablet's touchscreen to scroll. Researchers say manufacturers should take the findings to heart when developing their latest products. 

"Ensuring that our seniors are mainstream participants in the digital world is a responsibility shared by all, so that our elderly remain productive and contributing members of our society. Such an approach will improve their overall quality of life, as well as the world at large," they wrote.

Having easy-to-use technology could also have a positive impact on healthy aging, according to some recent studies on the subject. A 2009 study from the Phoenix Center, found that seniors who spent more time online had a 20 percent lower rate of depression. Additionally, researchers from N.C. State found earlier this year that older adults who play video games are also emotionally healthier than those who do not.