From "digital survivors" to "digital immigrants", "silver-haired people" cross the gap like this

  ——Research Report on the Digital Life of the Elderly in China

  Author: Research Group of Network Ageing Research, Institute of Social Development Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

  Editor's note

  Actively responding to the aging of the population is a major strategic choice of the party and the state.

In the report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that “actively respond to the aging of the population, build a policy system and social environment for the elderly, filial piety, and respect for the elderly, promote the integration of medical and elderly care, and accelerate the development of the cause and industry of the aging”, which is the cause of the aging of our country. Development points the way.

During the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, actively responding to the aging of the population has become a national strategy.

  Helping the elderly to integrate into the digital life is an important part of actively responding to the aging of the population.

With the release of policy documents such as the "Implementation Plan for Practically Solving the Difficulties of the Elderly in Using Intelligent Technology", the "Special Action Plan for Internet Applications to Adapt to Ageing and Accessibility", and the joint efforts of all sectors of society, the digital life of the elderly in my country has been Significant improvements have been made, but it is still necessary to further implement network adaptation to aging to help the elderly actively and effectively integrate into their digital lives.

On the occasion of the Double Ninth Festival, Guangmingzhi Library published a research report to analyze this issue in depth.

  In the digital age, how the elderly integrate into digital life has become an important issue affecting the quality of life of the "silver-haired people".

In order to fully grasp the current digital life characteristics of the elderly in my country and understand their actual needs for network adaptation to aging, the research team conducted a survey on the elderly in Beijing, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Sichuan, Ningxia and other places from June to August 2021. Interviews conducted an online survey of the elderly in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country, and analyzed the data of netizens' comments from various Internet channels from January 2019 to June 2021.

At the same time, the survey results are compared with similar research conducted by the research group in 2017, and this report is derived from this report, which provides a precise portrait of the digital life and information capabilities of the elderly, and proposes policy recommendations for my country to better develop the ageing of the network.

  1. Both online life ability and confidence in digital integration are improved

  ——The current digital life portrait of the elderly in my country

  Watching videos, playing games, and knowing how to pay, "silver-haired people" open a new world of internet.

The survey found that the internet usage of the elderly in my country has improved significantly compared with 2017.

Different from the monotonous and passive network life of the elderly in the general impression, the network applications they can operate have achieved various types of coverage, and many elderly people can choose different types of network applications according to their needs.

  In terms of types of usage, among the elderly who are exposed to the Internet, 91.6% will go online to read news and information every day, 87.3% will go online to read articles every day, 82.5% will go online to chat every day, and 84.3% will go online to watch videos (including short videos) every day.

Among them, nearly 10.9% of the elderly watch videos (including short videos) for more than 3 hours a day.

  The proportion of elderly people playing mobile games is not high, only 23.3%. Elimination and card games are the most popular.

74.8% of the elderly gamers said that they are very happy to play games and can forget their worries.

It is worth noting that children's attitudes towards elderly parents playing online games have changed significantly.

In 2017, the approval rate for parents playing mobile games was 17.38%, those who expressed neutrality accounted for 67.21%, and those who clearly opposed it accounted for 15.41%. In this survey, the three attitudes accounted for 31.3%, 63.9%, and 4.8% respectively.

It can be seen that the stereotype of "the elderly are not suitable for playing mobile games" has begun to change, and the subjectivity of the elderly as Internet users has been recognized and accepted by family members to a greater extent.

  In addition, the rate of online payment for the elderly has increased tremendously, and the prevention and control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic has become an important driving force for their use of online payment.

Taking WeChat Pay as an example, the number of elderly users has increased by nearly 20 times in the past two years.

A 2017 survey found that only a small number of elderly people use online payment, and 60.5% are not bound to a bank card.

In this survey, only 16.1% of the elderly Internet users who used online payment did not bind a bank card.

This shows that the use of mobile payments by the elderly tends to be normalized, with daily shopping, life payment, and e-commerce being the main use scenarios.

  Become the main body of acquisition, creation and dissemination, and the information ability of the elderly will be improved in all aspects.

The survey found that in 2017, only 22.1% of the elderly were able to pay living expenses online, which increased to 83.4% in 2021; the proportion of online registration increased from 12.1% in 2017 to 63.8%; the proportion of mobile navigation applications increased from 33.1% Increased to 75.0%; the proportion of mobile phone photo albums increased from 25.0% to 83.9%.

  In terms of fields, elderly Internet users have a strong ability to obtain information. 83.4% of them can find the latest news, and 90.8% can find the information they need.

Information security capabilities and awareness are acceptable, 85.9% of elderly netizens can protect personal information, 81.9% do not browse unsafe websites, 84.5% do not hand their phones to strangers, 72.3% do not easily click on links, and 61.9% have installed them on their phones Antivirus tools.

Information management capabilities are limited, and only 40% of people will save photos in their mobile phones to other storage devices.

The ability to discriminate information is low. 62.3% of elderly netizens rely on websites and mobile apps to verify the authenticity of information, and 48.6% of the elderly believe that the information on the Internet is basically reliable and rarely question them.

The ability to create information is strong, but many elderly netizens are not yet able to use network resources to accomplish more complex life needs.

Among the interviewees, a quarter do not use mobile phone navigation, more than a third do not order food delivery and online registration, and more than 40% do not book tickets online or use mobile apps to get taxis.

  The confidence in digital integration has been markedly reversed, and the concept of positive information has generally been established.

The survey found that most of the senior citizens surveyed believe that the Internet has a positive impact on life, such as the convenience of contact (96.4%), which makes life more interesting (97.5%).

  On the whole, the confidence of the elderly in using the Internet has been markedly reversed.

The proportion of elderly people who feel that their lives cannot be separated from the Internet has increased from 57.5% in 2017 to 93.7%; those who think it is necessary to learn mobile phone operation have increased from 44.3% in 2017 to 96.0%; and the number of people who think that the elderly do not use the Internet well From 45.3% to 10.0%; the number of people who think they can learn to operate online increased from 66.5% to 89.9%.

  2. Active or passive, embrace or alienate

  ——The digital stratification of the elderly is becoming more obvious

  Four types of digital stratification for the elderly

  Living in a digital society, the elderly have a significant digital stratification.

Based on the two dimensions of information ability and digital integration attitude as the basis for clustering, four types of elderly netizens can be identified.

  Active hug type.

Such seniors have high information capabilities and high awareness of the necessity of digital integration.

They will actively learn network operation skills, enhance information capabilities, and actively integrate into Internet life.

In the survey, this type of elderly accounted for 49.7%.

  Passive embrace type.

Such seniors have strong information capabilities, but they have limited awareness of the need to integrate into the Internet society and improve their digital capabilities.

They can make good use of Internet resources, but their subjective willingness to learn network applications is not strong, reflecting the passive information involvement characteristics.

In the survey, this type of elderly accounted for 17.7%.

  Active away type.

Such elderly people have low information capabilities and low perception of the necessity of digital integration.

They can complete fewer online operations independently, do not value whether they can use digital resources, and actively choose not to integrate into the informationized life.

In the survey, this type of elderly accounted for 10.6%.

  Passive away type.

Such elderly people have low information ability, but high perception of the necessity of digital integration.

They have fewer network operations and limited digital life, but they think it is necessary for the elderly to learn to use various digital resources, and subjectively hope to integrate.

In the survey, this type of elderly accounted for 22.0%.

  Subjective and objective reasons for digital stratification

  From the general variables that affect the digital stratification of the elderly, age, education level, pre-retirement occupation, etc. all have a direct impact.

Elderly people over 80 years old and people with low educational level need to overcome more difficulties when using smartphones; the elderly who need to use computers and other network devices before retirement are more adaptable.

  The main factors affecting the digital stratification of the elderly also include social roles and family roles.

Changes in social roles are one of the major changes in old age.

After retirement, the elderly withdraw from their previous social roles, which are prone to self-concept adaptability problems.

At this time, if you can take on some social roles within your ability, the endogenous motivation to use the Internet will be more sufficient, and the sense of self-efficacy will also be higher.

During the interview, some elderly volunteers used the Internet to be more proactive, not only to satisfy their personal life, emotional, and entertainment needs, but also to use it as a tool for social responsibility.

  The family role of the elderly is mainly to handle housework and take care of their underage grandchildren.

In the process of playing the role of family, the digital life abilities of the elderly have been greatly improved. For example, during the epidemic, they need to use the Internet to transport grandchildren and purchase daily necessities. Some elderly people have learned to scan QR codes, online shopping, and online payment for this purpose. .

At the same time, the Internet is becoming more and more important in the family life of the elderly.

Nearly 60% of the elderly interviewed do not live with their children. The Internet can maximize the communication between family members who are "close to them" and establish a virtual sense of intimacy, thereby compensating for the elderly's family role experience.

  Compared with the above factors, what is more important is the subjective willingness of the elderly to integrate into the digital life.

Although the elderly will encounter many difficulties in learning digital operations, as long as they can maintain a learning attitude, learning to use smartphones to surf the Internet is not as difficult as imagined.

96.1% of the senior citizens surveyed agree with "live to learn to grow old". Only a small number of people are not confident about learning to use the Internet. For example, 14.7% of the respondents believe that a high degree of education is necessary to "play well with smartphones."

  3. What caused "digital exclusion"

  ——The Internet life of the elderly highlights the pain points

  The advent of the new crown pneumonia epidemic has changed the internet usage habits of the elderly to a large extent, and has deeply and extensively involved the elderly in the online world.

95.1% of the elderly surveyed believe that it is necessary to learn network operations after the new crown pneumonia epidemic; 82.76% of the elderly surveyed learned a lot of new network operations during the epidemic.

Under the "reverse force" of the epidemic, the elderly have improved their adaptability to digital life, but they still face some outstanding pain points that are difficult to solve.

  Decline in bodily functions.

In the interview, 53.16% of the elderly mentioned the decline in vision, hearing and memory, as well as the decline in flexibility of fingers and joints.

These objective factors of cognitive aging have made many elderly people "reluctant to look at the Internet." In addition, the design of many smart products does not fully consider the changes in the cognitive abilities and physical functions of the elderly. Experience and pleasure.

  The main role is lost.

As the elderly leave the front line of labor, economic income is greatly restricted.

Survival consumption is still the primary choice for most elderly people, and the investment in purchasing equipment for accessing the digital space and network payment items is limited.

At the same time, the elderly change from the main role to the subordinate role in the family, and from the professional role to the leisure role in the society, which triggers tremendous changes in life and psychology.

In particular, after the "old drifters" left their hometown to live where their children worked, their social roles were further simplified, and many people would experience varying degrees of emotional distress such as loneliness, loss, emptiness, depression, anxiety, etc., which reduced their enthusiasm for digital life.

  Low self-efficacy.

In daily life, people tend to avoid tasks and situations that they think are beyond their own abilities, and are willing to take on tasks that they think they are capable of.

The survey found that it is more difficult for the elderly to gain a sense of accomplishment and a low sense of self-efficacy when using the Internet, thus lacking the power of action and willpower to enter the new digital life.

  Lack of family support.

The survey found that the online behavior of the elderly is largely influenced by their children, but the children's support for the digital life of the elderly is generally insufficient.

Only 7.1% of children who always help their parents learn various mobile phone applications and solve problems in a timely manner, 27.4% of the elderly said that their children can help them learn some mobile applications, 57.1% of the elderly said that their children only occasionally help, and 8.4% of the elderly said their children were unwilling to provide help.

At the same time, some improper guidance from children will also have a negative impact on elderly netizens.

  Social identity bias.

Although respecting and loving the elderly has become a social trend, in the face of the rapid development of digital technology, many people invisibly classify the elderly as "digital remnants" far away from the times. This negative digital image will make the elderly "self-actualized" "The prophecy", over time, turns himself into a passive person in thought and action who needs help from society.

It can be seen that people's "digital identity" for the elderly will greatly affect their use of technology.

  4. Change "be involved" to "be able to integrate"

  ——Policy recommendations for building an age-appropriate network society

  In the context of the national strategy of actively responding to the aging of the population, network adaptation to ageing has become an unavoidable topic of the times.

Network adaptation to ageing is not an overnight effort, but a long-term process that requires the care and efforts of the entire society.

To this end, the following six policy recommendations are put forward.

  At the national policy level, strengthen the top-level design and incorporate the ageing of the network into the national strategy to actively respond to the aging of the population.

It is necessary to establish a long-term mechanism, clearly grasp the headquarters and various related industries and institutions, and formulate restraint and incentive mechanisms to provide policy support for comprehensive and comprehensive transformation.

  At the level of public services, it is necessary to implement age-appropriate reforms on the basis of fully considering the digital stratification characteristics of the elderly.

It is necessary to actively provide digital informatization services that facilitate the elderly, but also to reserve a certain number of manual service windows and channels for the elderly. With the option of "online + offline", every elderly person can obtain appropriate public services. Service, sharing public social space.

  At the level of technology enterprises, the perspective should be changed to regard the elderly as one of the main clients, actively make good use of all levels and various types of adaptation policies for aging, and consciously promote technology to help the elderly.

For example, websites and apps should carry out specific technical transformations such as font size, color usage, etc. according to the characteristics of the elderly, and launch products such as old-fashioned, barrier-free, and voice-reading versions; technology companies should launch wearable smart devices and homes suitable for the elderly Smart products for life.

  At the family level, it is necessary to increase the respect and assistance of family members to the elderly, encourage the elderly to actively embrace the Internet society, and arouse their subjectivity and enthusiasm for participating in digital life.

It is necessary to attach importance to the voice of the elderly, pay attention to their true thoughts, and let them experience and feel the great potential of the Internet world, thereby forming a virtuous circle of "willing to surf the Internet-be able to surf the Internet-enjoy the Internet".

  At the social level, on the one hand, it is necessary to avoid the formation of negative digital images of the elderly, guide them to establish a positive concept of digital life, and help them form a positive sense of self-efficacy; on the other hand, it is possible to promote online counseling into the elderly community by holding mobile classrooms , Colleges for the elderly, etc., teach the elderly to use smart technologies "hands-on", and promote the emergence of more and more "digital talents" among the "silver-haired people".

  At the security level, it is necessary to intensify efforts to ensure network security and combat cybercrime, and create a clear and safe cyberspace for the elderly.

In particular, it is necessary to strictly prevent criminals from setting up scams based on the characteristics of weak information recognition ability of the elderly, and conduct proactive and precise research and judgment on all kinds of online crimes involving the elderly, and effectively and resolutely crack down on them.

  (Author: The Research Group of the Research on Network Ageing of the Academy of Social Development Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences: Tian Feng, a special researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Xi Jinping's Research Center for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era)

Keywords: people, aging, research report, life., country, elderly, life, children, xi jinping, network adaptation, integration, ageing, survivors, integration., policy system