The Pandemic’s Silver Lining

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By Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President of AARP Foundation

Despite the enormous challenges of the past year and a half, the pandemic did have a few silver linings. One is that it accelerated older adults’ adoption and use of technology, helping them integrate more fully into the digital world.

During COVID-19, many older adults were incentivized to learn more about technology to accomplish the tasks of daily living. As they stayed home to protect themselves from COVID-19, many older adults mastered the art of ordering groceries online, conducting virtual telemedicine visits and connecting to family and friends via video chat. They also became accustomed to performing banking and financial transactions online safely, quickly and conveniently from home.

Recent AARP research found that that the pandemic changed attitudes toward tech too.  Forty-four percent off older Americans view tech more positively to stay connected than they did before the pandemic, and it seems that those positive feelings translated into greater use of fintech. More than half (53%) of adults 50 and older are using their smartphones for financial transactions compared to a little over a third (37%) in 2019. And, in the last quarter of 2020, Chase Bank found that over half of new digitally active customers since the start of the pandemic were over 50.

Getting Started Online

While many older adults are feeling more comfortable online, some people still need a bit of help to get started. For those who need assistance with mobile banking or other fintech tools, I encourage them to check out AARP Foundation’s library of free online resources, which we developed in collaboration with Chase. The tools are easy to use and designed to help people stay connected and strengthen their financial health. They are available in English and Spanish. 

Our fintech resource online hub includes videos and virtual workshops to assist with mobile bankingdepositing checks remotelydetecting scams, creating a budget online, and more. For those just starting to learn about financial technology, we also provide an introduction to fintech and a video with instructions on how to download an app

Protecting Yourself from Scams

Online banking tools can also increase financial safety. For older adults, who are frequently targeted by scammers, electronic banking alerts like text messages, in-app notifications and emails are a convenient early warning system, allowing them to notify the bank quickly when they discover suspicious charges.

AARP Foundation and Chase have created a virtual workshop outlining some of the most common scams on the internet and how to protect against them. These include safeguarding personal information, paying close attention to the language used by the scammer, which will often contain spelling and grammatical errors, and setting up banking alerts to detect potential fraud. 

In this video, we developed a list of red flags and questions to ask yourself if you feel that an online connection might be a scam While the pandemic intensified our reliance on technology, the increasing digitization of our world is here to stay. With the right information, older adults can take advantage of technology to benefit many aspects of their lives. AARP Foundation and Chase are committed to providing the tools and know-how to assist older adults in become an increasing part of our digital world.

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Life

After a year of remaining home, many people are excited to return to the in-person activities that give them pleasure while following public health guidelines.  They are eager to eat in restaurants, attend sporting events and movies and gather in person with family and friends.  Connecting virtually remains an additional way for older adults to create and maintain connections, especially if weather, mobility, distance or limited resources prevent in-person get togethers. 

Recent research from AARP shows that a significant number of older adults are already using social media. Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults age 50 and older report using Facebook on a regular basis, and 33 percent are using YouTube. 

For those looking to build these social media skills, AARP Foundation and Chase have put together three lessons to get started on social media platforms and stay connected safely. These include the basics of video chat technologystaying safe when making connections online, and searching online for local and virtual events

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of the past year, many older adults have embraced fintech and other technologies to maintain social connections and complete daily tasks. With newfound digital confidence, older adults can use online tools for everyday responsibilities. As older adults’ confidence grows, we foresee more users adopting digital technology to make their lives easier and to increase their financial health.

To learn more about the free resources, research and workshops available, please visit fintech.aarpfoundation.org.

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