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Can the Internet Save Our Grandparents?

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jnikola Sep 18, 2020
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The idea to brainstorm:

How could old people use the Internet to stay healthy and prolong their lives?

The internet is booming in the last decade. Tons of new content, videos, games, courses, tools, and applications varying from entertainment to health are being uploaded hourly.

We see kids staring at the glowing screens, oddly satisfied with their virtual profiles and funny memes. Older people tracking their fitness activity or managing bank accounts from their sofas. But we don´t see many people above the age of 60 using the beauties of the Internet.

Could it prolong their lives?
Should we teach them?
Could it somehow backfire?
Will the young Tik-Tok generation be more connected and aware of their health when they grow old? Could they live happier and longer because of that?

What are the potential benefits, disadvantages, and examples?
Creative contributions

A dangerous disadvantage: disinformation

Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce Jan 13, 2021
It is great to see so much of the positive sides, but let's remember the dark sides too.

Disinformation on the internet can reach incredible levels. It is dressed up in its finest dress and even many young people who grew up with the internet and technology struggle to recognize it from truthful information.
I believe that an old person left alone to face the (for him/her) complicated and (for everyone) often confusing reality of the internet and technology may be dangerous.
You can get one or two people maximum a day knocking on your door asking if you want a (fake) insurance contract. Or a miraculous diet product. On the internet, you can get the equivalent of 20 of these as an advertisement on a generic recipes site.
Very dangerous, I would say.
Maybe a solution for this would be to create some free courses to teach how to approach these dangers.
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jnikola3 years ago
I agree it can be dangerous. My grandma also gets scammed by knock-on-door salesmen at least once a year. But that's not the reason to avoid the internet, I think. One solution could be to teach them, but, as you said, young people who grow up with the internet also get scammed. I can't think of a course that would teach them to avoid all the forms of danger. Maybe a nice idea would be to tailor the internet experience to their needs.
One idea can be a premade security option (e.g. called "safe net") on a web browser that eliminates "dangerous" ads and contents. Basically, it would be just a browser on a mother tongue, showing content based on language and location, does not save cookies, doesn't let pop-ups appear, offers live antivirus and antimalware protection, and blocks ads. There are already some tolls, software or extensions that tackle this problem. For example, Oswald removes the clutter and leaves the relevant text on the page (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/oswald/ibonfikdhfajjmcaoiecaoaomnngamfn?hl=en).

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Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce3 years ago
Juran Cool one, I completely agree.
Yes, as we have the "kids settings" we should have some "elderly options" such as the ones you mentioned.
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The internet can keep us all together.

Jamila Sep 18, 2020
I think a lot of people; especially the elderly can become quite isolated and this can impact their mental health. So, it’s important that we try to prevent that by staying social with them. My grandma is in her 70s and we don’t live in the same country. Before the internet, we used to use calling cards to speak to her. Nowadays we have the brilliant internet to help us. My aunt gave my grandma a smartphone and taught her how to use it. Now she knows how to make calls, send messages, and even browse the internet! Because of this, we can stay connected with her through phone calls. But the best bit is that we can do video calls with her and see each other. This way she is able to keep up with all 5 of her kids and all of her grandchildren too!
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jnikola4 years ago
I am so glad to hear that! My grandma is not keen on using the Internet and often feels very lonely. Thankfully, she lives close. But in Your case, the video calls are a perfect solution. I see great potential in educating elderly people to use Internet tools. They could find something interesting to read or learn a skill they always wanted to, following the online courses or playing specific games. On the other hand, they could report their health issues faster and share their weekly statistics with their children. We just need to find a way how to keep them motivated to actually start using these.
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Jamila 4 years ago
Aww, it’s nice that your grandma lives near to you. I completely agree, I think teaching the elderly how to use the internet would be very beneficial. But I do believe the elderly face barriers and that’s why so many are reluctant to use it. I grew up with the internet around me and I had ICT lessons from a young age but for someone who has never learned about it before, it can be hard for them. It would be nice if we could reduce the entry barriers for elderly individuals facing difficulties. Very true! It would be cool if they could share their health stat with their doctor and family, it would keep everyone in the loop about their health.
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Some examples

jnikola Sep 18, 2020
1. Parkinson´s disease detection app Recently, an EU-funded project resulted in the app called i-PROGNOSIS that tracks user face gestures, typing, voice, and can detect early signs of the Parkinson´s. Even when the person is diagnosed, it can help by inducing a healthy diet or physical activity through games and app features [1]. 2. Detection of pancreatic cancer using the browsing history data A team from Microsoft tried to use browsing history data of people who searched the internet using terms like "why did I get cancer in the pancreas,” or “I was told I have pancreatic cancer what to expect” to find pre-diagnosis browsing search patterns that could be something like "early symptoms" [2, 3]. 3. Monitoring mental health An interesting article is discussing how internet activity can reflect your personality, everyday habits, rituals, and most importantly, changes in all mentioned, to monitor your mental health and detect abnormalities [4]. Could all of this prolong the lives of our elderly family members? Could the Internet be used as both - the physical and mental health tracker and enhancer? References: [1] http://www.i-prognosis.eu/ [2] https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JOP.2015.010504 [3] https://www.technologyreview.com/2016/06/08/159752/can-you-really-spot-cancer-through-a-search-engine/ [4] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-internet-habits-say-about-mental-health/
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