The COVID-19 pandemic has had huge effects on the daily lives of most individuals in the first half of 2020. Widespread lockdown and preventative measures have isolated individuals, affected the world economy, and limited access to physical and mental healthcare. While these measures may be necessary to minimize the spread of the virus, the negative physical, psychological, and social effects are evident. In response, technology has been adapted to try and mitigate these effects, offering individuals digital alternatives to many of the day-to-day activities which can no longer be completed normally. However, the elderly population, which has been worst affected by both the virus, and the lockdown measures, has seen the least benefits from these digital solutions. The age based digital divide describes a longstanding inequality in the access to, and skills to make use of, new technology. While this problem is not new, during the COVID-19 pandemic it has created a large portion of the population suffering from the negative effects of the crisis, and unable to make use of many of the digital measures put in place to help. This paper aims to explore the increased negative effects the digital divide is having in the elderly population during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aims to highlight the need for increased attention and resources to go toward improving digital literacy in the elderly, and the need to put in place measures to offer immediate solutions during the COVID-19 crisis, and solutions to close the digital divide for good in the long-term.

COVID-19, digital divide, digital literacy, elderly, pandemic,
Frontiers in Psychiatry
Department of Psychology

Martins Van Jaarsveld, G. (Gabrielle). (2020). The Effects of COVID-19 Among the Elderly Population: A Case for Closing the Digital Divide. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2020.577427