A decade of education to the digitalisation of the elderly

The pandemic has shown us the importance of bringing new technologies to the elderly. It improves their quality of life, allows them to stay connected with family and friends, helps them to stay active and healthy, and promotes their autonomy.

Two elder people with a laptop

Reading time: 3 min
Deniz Taskiran

Deniz Taskiran

Corporate Affairs Telefónica Deutschland

Telefónica Deutschland O2 recognised this almost ten years ago and teamed up with the Digital Opportunities Foundation to launch a programme called “Digital mobil im Alter”. Since then, they have been working together to make older people more aware of the opportunities offered by digitalisation and to help them master the challenges of using the internet. Digital inclusion is part of Telefónica’s strategy to help society thrive.

Older people in particular suffer from the restriction of social contacts as a result of the Corona pandemic. To counteract loneliness, O2 provided a free digital care package as part of its initiative “Digitally mobile in old age”.

With the help of smartphones and tablets, physical distance can be overcome to some extent. People can be close to each other via video telephony, voice messages and photos. In addition, mobile devices and the internet offer numerous possibilities to obtain information, find new fields of interest and become creative. With the programme, O2 offers older people access to the digital world and brings in partner institutions to support seniors well.

Digital competences of senior citizens

Digital technologies can help older people live independently in their own homes for longer and to shape their lives in a more self-determined way. In addition to media competence, confidence in one’s own abilities to master new technologies is a basic prerequisite for this. However, there is a gap in the 65+ generation between those who already know how to use these possibilities for themselves and those who still feel inhibited for various reasons. As current figures from the Federal Statistical Office show, over 7 million people aged 70 and over have never used the internet.

“Digital mobil im Alter” is a programme of O2 and the Digital Opportunities Foundation. For many years, they have been working together to bring older people closer to the opportunities offered by digitalisation and to help them overcome the challenges of using the internet.

In the project “Digital mobil im Alter”, for example, the company enables older people to try out tablets and gain online experience for eight weeks under expert guidance. In 2020, the programme reached around 47,000 older people (2019: 32,000). Through the programme, Telefónica Deutschland aims to reach 1.5 million people by 2021. “Digitally mobile in old age” has worked with politicians, welfare organisations, social institutions, senior citizens’ advisory boards/representatives, institutions for senior citizens as well as associations and volunteers.

The guide “Digital Competences for Older People”, which was developed in 2019 on the basis of a study initiated by the Digital Opportunities Foundation and O2, provides guidelines on how to tailor offers to senior citizens. The guide was reissued in 2020, distributed to nationwide institutions and also made available as a download to all interested parties.

On the occasion of the German parliamentary elections, Telefónica Deutschland O2 and Stiftung Digitale Chancen launched the educational campaign “Faktisch betrachtet – fit gegen Fake News“ for older peopleon the topic of disinformation on the Internet. At the heart of the campaign is an information package that ranges from a checklist for debunking false information to explanatory videos and various events. The materials can also be used by coaches as part of continuing education programmes. 


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