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Digital services are for everyone, at every age

Blog Written on 12.4.2019 All blogs

Older people may find it challenging to use My Kanta Pages and various public e-services. How can we get everyone on board when services move to the internet?

In Finland, there is still a large group of people who do not use information technology and are not familiar with using online services. However, in an increasingly digital society, online skills are becoming an essential part of managing everyday tasks. Therefore, we need instruction in digital skills to ensure that everyone will have an opportunity to use public e-services such as My Kanta Pages. 

Guidance in the use of digital services is needed in different life stages regardless of age, but the need for support is accentuated among older people. Smartphones, computers and tablets may seem complicated and the use of online services unsafe. Everyone should receive guidance and support in the use of electronic services.

“According to studies, senior citizens are interested in information technology, although many of them do not use it at all. We need means and platforms in order to promote knowhow,” says Executive Director Tiina Etelämäki of Enter ry, an ICT association for elderly people.

Senior citizens using a tab.

Of course, there are also many elderly people who are using e-services without any problems. For example, 37 per cent of Finnish people over 65 have used the My Kanta Pages service. The Kanta Services are also useful even if you are not using information technology yourself: smooth sharing of information between various healthcare services enables better care for everyone. 

How can we make it easier to use digital services?

It is a well-known fact that motivation and enthusiasm are the best basis for learning. This is also true when considering how to encourage older people to use digital services. Not many people want to buy a computer or start using it only in order to pay bills or check the validity of prescriptions.

In the Kanta Services, learning how to use online services is supported with various materials.

“You have to generate people’s enthusiasm. In our tutoring, we often start from the concept of how information technology could bring joy to people in their everyday lives. For example, if you are a keen gardener, various plants can be identified with a smartphone application. When that spark and reason to learn to use the device has been found, you can then move on to learn how to use e-services,” Etelämäki explains.

Anyone can come and join Enter’s tutoring events for free with their own device and discuss at length what they want to learn together with the tutor. The association’s operation is based on the fact that the voluntary tutors are also senior citizens themselves. Peer support plays a key part in the sharing of information. “It is a completely different matter when the tutor is a 70-year-old pensioner explaining how they personally use digital services or, say, smartphone apps. The threshold to start learning is much lower.”

Digital support in the use of My Kanta Pages

In the Kanta Services, learning how to use online services is supported with various materials, such as My Kanta Pages online school. That way, you can make yourself acquainted with the service one step at a time. An expert of Kela’s Kanta Services is also often invited to tell about My Kanta Pages in the annual SeniorSurf day. Kela’s customer services also help in the use of Kanta Services

Enter ry has dealt with the Kanta Services in its own information spots, and the tutors of the association can help in the use of My Kanta Pages, if necessary. However, there is a need for demo platforms for trying out My Kanta Pages and similar public services.

“It can be challenging to instruct in the use of My Kanta Pages as the tutor can see the health data of the person they are instructing when they log in to the service. Naturally, some people don’t mind that, but it would be really important to have some kind of demo service so you wouldn’t have to log in to the service with your own details,” Etelämäki says.



Guidance in digital literacy with a low threshold throughout the country

Enter ry is an association for elderly people, offering peer guidance in the use of information technology. Enter ry operates in the Uusimaa region, and there are also similar associations in North Karelia, Kuopio and North Savo, as well as in the Tampere region. In addition, many individual operators, such as senior citizens’ associations, provide guidance in digital literacy locally in various regions. The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People, on the other hand, coordinates national SeniorSurf activities with an objective of encouraging elderly people to learn how to use information technology.
Instruction in digital skills is usually provided in libraries, and it is advisable to ask about these events at your local library. In addition to the internet, future events are also published in the local newspapers, on noticeboards and by word of mouth.