Do Older Adults Tango or Skype? By: Sydney Rounsaville

As children, technology is the next best thing to candy and donuts. This generation of children has grown up in a society where technology is available through phones, tablets, and even in a school setting. Many apps on these brain-sucking devices are now being invented specifically for certain age groups. But have the makers found a way to design an app that appeals to all ages? In this paper, Tango and Skype are analyzed to see if they are beneficial or harmful to older adults and how they can be improved to help older adults, cognitively and socially.

Tango is a messaging app designed for call or video chat on tablets or smartphones. It has free international and domestic call and text where users can send pictures, stickers, and videos. Users can use mask and avatars while they are calling their loved ones or friends. There are also many games that the receiver and caller can play together. Also users are able to interact with people nearby all over the world. Like Facebook, users can share photos or videos on their “page” and their followers can see them.

Skype is a free video-calling app around the world. This app can be used on any device including IPhone, IPad, Andriod, and PC/Mac. A user can have one-on-one video calls, group video calls, instant messaging, normal phone calls, and screen sharing international or in the country. With messaging, a user can use “mojis,” “emoticons,” and can send a video message to their receiver. A user is also able to send text messages and voice messages. With the screen sharing, users can send files and send contacts. Skype also has other features connected with Outlook mail, a translator, and “add a button” to a blog or website for viewers to click on and call the author. Additionally, Skype includes professional online meetings where businesses can meet together that are not in the same state or country. Users are able to record their meetings with over 250 people.

I believe it is important for older adults (senior citizens) to use the Tango app because they would be able to stay in contact with family and friends. With advances in technology, older adults are finding it hard to stay up to date with the latest machinery. I believe this app will solve many problems they have interacting with their friends, relatives, grandkids and younger adults (etc.) in today’s society. This app could also help them keep in contact with anyone around the world. If they have relations in other countries, it would free and available for them to talk with anyone at any time (of course, keeping in count the time difference). I believe it would also help with loneliness. This app is a bit like Facebook where they could interact with others close by. This means older adults could meet new people and see new things they have not experienced before. I do not believe this app could help health wise for older adults. It could actually strain them with their eyesight and having to stare at a phone or tablet screen for a long period of time. I do believe with the games on the app, this could help with memory and cognitive skills. There is a game on the app, where the caller must hold still so their camera can take a picture of what is in front of them. Then, the app jumbles up the picture into a matching game, where the receiver will solve the puzzle so the picture is as it started. If I had to improve Tango, I would add group video calling like Skype. Then, many older adults can come together and it would save time from having to call each friend separately.

One source stated that there are individual differences in the Theory of Mind (ToM), which is essential for individual’s social interaction. Lecce, Ceccato, Bianco, Rosi, Bottiroli, and Cavallini conducted a study on 53 older adults from Italy to see if ageing in adults has an association with Theory of Mind and social interaction. They focused on individuals’ relatives and friends. With a demographic questionnaire and two- hour session, which included tests of verbal ability ToM and social interaction (Cecce, Bianco, Rosi, Bottiroli & Cavallini, 2015). The results concluded that there is a significant association with friends and older adults’ ToM, but not with relatives. Friendships in older adults are shown as “not predetermined” and must be created and maintained (Cecce et al., 2015). With the results, the researchers found that older adults need both ToM skills and high motivation to keep friendships. Some older adults do not use these skills (social neutral tool) to interaction daily with others.

I believe the Skype app would help older adults with social interactions, loneliness just like Tango, but also mobility. Skype also provides social interaction with anyone around the world, family members, and friends. Unlike Tango, it does not have games or avatars that grandchildren can play with them or a section like “Facebook.” Skype however does have many ways to interact through the screen sharing. Most computers do not have a camera on the outside and it becomes hard trying to show what is in front of you. With Skype, older adults can show their date their dinner or the grandchild the blanket they are knitting. With mobility, most older adults who live with relatives, sometimes do not have to access to a car or the time for a loved one to drive them to visit with old friends. Using Skype would help older adults be able to video call multiple friends at once. This would help the caregiver out as well as the older adults. It’s a win-win. Because Skype is an app that connects business, I believe this would help older adults who have not retired yet. They would be able to stay in the comfort of their home and still be actively apart of their business or company. This would help older adults remain in work longer, if desired. Many adults are continuing their careers past the age of 65 and most companies are happy to see a long-term friend and partner still in action. If I had to improve Skype, I would add a feature of watching movies, television series or reading a book together. This feature would allow older adults to enjoy their favorite shows on their couch, but with the company of their loved one or friend.

Chiu, Lin, Chang, Chang, and Lai conducted a study that proposed an eight-week touchscreen mobile device training for older adults. They stated older adults have lagged behind in Internet technology because of their resistance to accept it and their living status in low Internet usage areas (Chiu, Lin, Chang, Chang & Lai, 2016). In Taiwan, 20 older adults completed the pre and posttest and group interviews. The researchers discussed how training for these apps are very useful to older adults for more health, entertainment, transportation, and social-media options. This would improve the psychological well-being of older adults (Chiu et al., 2016). This proves that older adults need to improve their technology usage to be more involved in society and stay content with life.

Tango and Skype are very important apps to use in today’s society, especially for older adults. With the advancement in technology, many older adults have felt at a loss for staying connected with today’s new products and their family members or friends. With the improvement on social interaction, cognitive skills, loneliness, and mobility, these apps can help older adults stay part of our wonderful world with just the tab of a finger.

References

Chiu, C., Hu, Y., Lin, D., Chang, F., Chang, C., & Lai, C. (2016). The attitudes, impact, and         learning needs of older adults using apps on touchscreen mobile devices: Results from a           pilot study. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 189-197. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.020

Lecce, S., Ceccato, I., Bianco, F., Rosi, A., Bottiroli, S., & Cavallini, E. (2015). Theory of     Mind   and social relationships in older adults: the role of social motivation. Aging &    Mental Health, 21(3), 253-258. doi:10.1080/13607863.2015.1114586

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