WeChat rolls out elderly ‘Care Mode’ as Tencent answers the call for an internet friendlier to China’s ageing population
- When ‘Care Mode’ is enabled in WeChat, fonts and buttons are enlarged and the colour scheme is changed to make objects easier to see for the visually impaired
- Beijing called on tech companies earlier this year to make apps more accessible to the elderly as it seeks to close the digital divide
In addition to enlarging text, activating Care Mode also changes the colour scheme to make certain objects more recognisable and gives the app’s main functions larger buttons. The move is an attempt to “improve the convenience for user groups that include senior citizens and the visually impaired”, the company said in a statement announcing the new feature on Monday.
WeChat is China’s largest social network, with 1.25 billion monthly active users in the second quarter, and is widely used for everything from mobile payments to health codes. Care Mode is meant to address the country’s changing demographics, but the design change does not yet extend to all third-party mini programs that launch within WeChat.
The company said it would continue to explore more elderly-friendly services for Care Mode.
Taobao is owned by Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post.
China is facing a rapidly ageing population, and many of the country’s elderly were forced online for the first time by the Covid-19 pandemic. People over the age of 50 are now the fastest growing group of internet users, accounting for 30 per cent of the country’s 1 billion netizens in September, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre.
Citizens 65 years old and over made up 13.5 per cent of the country’s 1.41 billion people, according to census data last year, an 8.9 per cent jump from a decade ago. The government estimates that about a quarter of its population will be older than 60 by 2030.