Senior Citizens in Digital Education: the transgenerational approach

Europe’s population is getting older. In January 2021, 20.8% of Europe’s population was aged 65 years or over according to Eurostat, while in the middle of the 20th century, those only aged 65 and over would have made up just one in fourteen of the community’s population (~7%). The trend of “ageing Europe” is expected to be more serious reaching almost 130 million by 20501 which would be 29.37% of the total population in the EU. Therefore, special attention should be paid on senior citizens and their digital education.

We can experience a digital divide between the generations: a gap between age groups in terms of their access to and use of modern information and communications technologies.2 In the EU-27 countries, 44% of people aged 65-74 years in 2017 had never used a computer. As it is an average rate, several EU member states have higher share in this term: higher than two thirds in Italy and Romania, and 73% in Croatia, 74% in Bulgaria, and 78% in Greece.  Nowadays, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a central role in everyday life and those who actively engage in online activity enjoy significantly more opportunities than those who are not ICT literate or active participants in the online society. Therefore, it is imperative that each and every citizen has both access to ICTs, as well as the competences required.

The concept of ‘active ageing’ is directly related to the general concept of education.3 One of the important aspects of informal education is the use of information technology. The age group over-65 is at risk of social exclusion due to the lack of or poor access to information technology which is now present in all everyday situations. In addition to a lack of motivation and skills, digital exclusion can also result from various types of disability that often affect older people. Therefore, it is important to encourage the over-65s to use digital information and various media and to understand the information messages. Education of people over 65 is a very important duty and contributes to the improvement of the quality of their lives, influences their self-esteem, their feeling of self-fulfilment. Nevertheless, according to the research “Sustainability literacy in older age groups: on the way to sustainable development”4, elderly citizens quickly learn, apply and share their newly acquired knowledge, having influence and impact, through their networks, on society’s understanding of these topics.

Numerous trainings and materials are available which help senior citizens to improve their digital skills, and thus, their access to information in general, but not all of them have the opportunity to participate in such face-to-face programmes due to different hindering factors (e.g. disabilities, big distances, lack of locally available programmes, special needs, remained concerns since COVID-19, etc.).

Although senior citizens can learn quickly, the knowledge-transfer can be challenging. The transgenerational approach when different generations of the family or the community learn together is a great solution to involve the older citizens in lifelong learning by using digital learning materials and toolkits. This type of co-education also means quality time for the families, strengthen the bonds between grandparents and grandchildren or between community members. Elder people can be reluctant to ask help, but if a close family member or someone from their community helps the knowledge transfer, it can be really effective, easy-to-use, and even entertaining way of learning if we found gamified training materials on the internet.

The C.H.A.N.G.E.R.S.-2.0 project addressing Rural Seniors to Change Household Attitudes for a Non-wasteful, Green environment and Energy-consciousness intends to facilitate the transgenerational learning opportunities by offering a playful approach to their training material. Due to the projects results, different generations can learn together about sustainability topics and can support each other in the acquisition of the knowledge and its application in real life. Seniors are valuable members of our societies, and we can learn so much from them. By increasing their knowledge and digital skills, we help them to be active citizens, have a real impact, facilitate cultural heritage preservation while we ensure inclusiveness for all.

Follow our project to learn more about our materials targeting senior citizens: Project’s Website



[1] Eurostat (2023): Ageing Europe – statistics on population developments. Source: LINK

[2] Eurostat (2020): Ageing Europe – looking at the lives of older people in the EU: LINK

[3] Pilar Escuder-Mollon, Salvador Cabedo (editors) (2013): Education and quality of life of senior citizens: LINK

[4] Dolores, Patrícia – Caetano, Fernando J. P. – Oliveira, Carla Padrel de (2017): Sustainability literacy in older age groups: on the way to sustainable development: LINK