The statistics show that a growing number of senior citizens are becoming tech savvy. Perhaps the isolation protocols of the pandemic have helped encourage the elderly set to accept computers as a means of keeping in touch with friends and relations and as a way to shop online.
The FandomSpot website, focused on Internet content, recently conducted a survey of 1,000 computer users aged 65-plus and found that most of them, 76 percent, go online because it helps to stimulate their brains. The poll also found that nearly half of those who took part in the survey had spent $500 or more on computer paraphernalia. As FandomSpot’s Alyssa Celatti told the New York Post, “Old people don’t just want to sit on the porch and watch leaves fall, they want to have fun. This study might even encourage more senior citizens to give gaming a go for some of the benefits cited by their peers.”
That’s all well and good, but there is a sinister side of online gaming when gaming is a synonym for gambling. Rethinking65.com, an online resource for financial advisors, warns that “As [online] gambling platforms multiply, some people in or near retirement might be tempted to roll the dice on their wealth accumulated over a lifetime. And financial advisors may find themselves on the front line of helping clients for whom casual gambling becomes a compulsion that could drain their savings.”
For some seniors gambling might be a stimulant, but for others it could be all about the appeal of so-called “easy money,” especially for those on fixed incomes. “But gambling also can numb the pain of chronic health problems and provide an escape from lifestyle issues. It can distract from anxiety,” said Felicia Grondin, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. And she told Rethinking65, “the proliferation of new casino locales and of heavily advertised online gaming sites can be a siren call to those filling emotional needs.”
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital, reports that gambling is not a problem for most people, including seniors. CAMH provides a list of things to look for that might signal that it has become or is becoming a problem:
- Spending more on gambling than intended.
- Feeling bad, sad or guilty about gambling.
- Placing larger, more frequent bets.
- Not having enough money for food, rent or bills after gambling.
- Loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family.
- Placing a high priority on gambling.
- Being secretive about the amount of time and money spent gambling.