TORONTO, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Connectivity has never been more important than in this last year, when the pandemic separated people from their friends and families for an extended period of time. With the older population being so much more vulnerable to COVID-19, they are likely to spend more time physically distancing for longer than the rest of the general population. Sadly, this isolation can have major repercussions.
A recent study showed that social disconnection puts older adults at greater risk of depression and anxiety, and can even lead to health problems such as cognitive decline and heart disease. People with strong social bonds are 50 per cent less likely to suffer negative effects from isolation than those who have fewer social connections.
Yet there is a gap when it comes to access to technology.
According to Stats Canada, roughly 30 per cent of the senior population do not use the Internet. Of those who do have internet, many don’t have strong enough digital literacy skills to use tools that may help to improve their mental health and well-being.
ABC Life Literacy Canada, a national not-for-profit literacy organization, offers a suite of free resources aimed at adults who want to improve their digital literacy skills. Through two of its programs – Youth Teaching Adults and ABC Internet Matters – anyone can access a wide variety of downloadable tools, resources and lesson plans on how to navigate the World Wide Web.
Resources range from tools such as how to stay safe online by being able to identify spam emails or set strong passwords to downloading and using apps such as Spotify, Facebook and YouTube.
The resources are available to individuals as well as community groups who want to run workshops to support seniors in their community with valuable digital literacy skills.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the reality of senior isolation and loneliness in Canada, and demonstrated the need to empower seniors with digital literacy skills,” says Elizabeth Robinson, Director of Programs at ABC Life Literacy Canada. “While the number of adult learners and seniors with access to the internet is growing significantly, many don’t have the appropriate digital literacy skills to use the Internet safely. Our hope is that these resources will help provide adults and seniors the skills and confidence needed to connect with their community and gain access to basic needs like food, government support and healthcare.”
To access free digital literacy resources, visit www.abclifeliteracy.ca.
About ABC Life Literacy Canada
ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization that aims to strengthen organizations that promote adult learning. We develop and support the use of high-quality introductory learning materials and resources written in clear language. We envision a Canada where everyone has the tools and opportunities they need to improve their literacy and essential skills.
About Youth Teaching Adults
Youth Teaching Adults is a free introductory digital literacy program for adult learners, led by youth volunteer-tutors. It is a collaboration between ABC Life Literacy Canada and Youth Empowering Parents and is partly funded by the Government of Canada through the Digital Literacy Exchange Program. For more information, visit YouthTeachingAdults.ca.
About ABC Internet Matters
ABC Internet Matters provides introductory digital literacy education for Canadian seniors who are not using the internet and adult learners who have a gap on the digital curve. It is presented with support from the Canadian Bankers Association. For more information, visit ABCInternetMatters.ca.
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