Older Australians suffering from digital inclusion gap

Swinburne University develops a model to build digital literacy among over 60s.

Addressing the digital inclusion gap

While many older Australians are embracing digital life through online engagement, there is a disproportionate number who do not have an understanding of digital and online technologies.

Currently, around 3.6 million Australians, or 19 per cent of the adult population, are aged 65 and over. Just 51 per cent of them are internet users. Some of them are digitally literate with the help of friends and family, but the ones who don’t have access to this help are effectively shunned by a world where businesses and essential services such as banking, finance, health care, utilities and payment systems are administered.

A digital inclusion and participation gap has been identified for older Australians in particular.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) highlights that Australians 65 and over experience the lowest levels of digital inclusion, and as digital technologies evolve, and services, information and communication applications continue to move online, this gap remains a pressing social issue.

To combat this digital participation gap, Swinburne Social Innovation Research Institute researchers partnered with Telstra and two Melbourne Councils – Boroondara and Knox – to try and find a solution.

The 60+ Online project aimed to develop a model for improving and sustaining seniors’ use of digital technologies through a series of problem-based, creative digital stories and social media workshops.

The project focused on sustaining seniors’ use of digital technologies by drawing on personal interests to produce digital stories, as well as address uncertainties regarding online security, privacy and sharing by engaging with social media platforms.

Unlike normal digital literacy programs that apply tutorial models building instrumental and operational skills, the 60+ Online project focused on digital stories and social media.

By targeting creative digital content production and social interaction, the 60+ Online model aimed to engage explicitly with seniors’ personal lives and community contexts.

The evaluation of the 60+ Online project demonstrated that teaching digital and social media skills to seniors was successful. Analysis of the interview and focus group data showed that seniors were largely interested and enthusiastic about sharing content that they had created and that this focus on individual content creation and online sharing may help to overcome some of the barriers that typically limit seniors’ participation online.

What do you think? Do you feel like you are keeping pace with digital technology or are you worried about being left behind?

Read the full report.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    11th Apr 2018
    It could be they can't afford a computer and mobile phone screens are too small to read
    11th Apr 2018
    - and the buttons are too small
    - and there are too many complex functions just to make a phone call.
    - and when you buy a one that dedicated to the elderly it doesn't have the same high quality signal so its doesn't work in their area.
    - and the volume control and voice quality is too limited for the hearing impaired.
    etc etc
    Old Geezer
    11th Apr 2018
    Get a smart phone they are so much easier to use than those ones with buttons you press.
    11th Apr 2018
    A 76 year old, recently had NBN installed at his home because he was talked into it by a door-to -door salesperson. Paying $90 per month. Hasn't got a computer, doesn't want one and is asking, why is he paying so much just to make few local call each month? And, when his NBN phone line is down and can't make a phone call, you can hear his roar of anger two blocks away. He doesn't want a mobile phone because he is partly blind and can't read the small writing. What can he do?
    11th Apr 2018
    Can you help him change his policy?
    He can purchase a battery UPS for power failures but it certainly doesn't help when the NBN is down - and it sure is down a lot.
    If he can afford a "Google Home" you can just say "OK Google phone ....(recipient)" - when the NBN is up and running.
    11th Apr 2018
    Thanks Rosret.
    11th Apr 2018
    Its just a complete mistery to me & find it difficult to understand
    Old Geezer
    11th Apr 2018
    Yes I am completely computer illiterate myself. At least that is what I tell those who ring to tell me my computer is sending unwanted stuff. I just say if you don't want it then send it back. They say it isn't that simple. I reply well it is to me and when can I expect to receive it back? Sometimes it is good to be computer illiterate.
    11th Apr 2018
    HS he can contact the Telecommunications Ombudsman http://www.tio.com.au/ Write
    PO Box 276, Collins Street West Vic 8007 or phone 1800 062 058 - he can also write to Telstra outlining his complaint rather than phoning and getting the run around. Mind you it takes months to resolve - if all else fails contact the media and report them for signing this man up to something he would never use or want. Also if he has a personal alarm make sure that it works with the NBN and if he has no mobile then that leaves him in an very vulnerable position in regards to safety.
    11th Apr 2018
    Thanks PennWeaver.
    11th Apr 2018
    You who are bamboozled by computer use could try contacting your local computer access centre and ask for help. The "GOOD THINGS FOUNDATION' now finance computer literacy programmes through these centres.

    14th Apr 2018
    Trouble is neil, there are a lot that are unable to get to such places because of ill health
    11th Apr 2018
    I echo Hobbits remarks because that is what my first thoughts were.
    11th Apr 2018
    I have a family member who needed to scan forms for hospital My sister and her husband could not scan and fax the forms, They are over 60 plus. Most forms now need to be digitally delivered, Please let us just oldies do things the old-fashioned way
    Old Geezer
    11th Apr 2018
    I had to do the same so just took photos of them using my tablet and emailed them from the tablet. Health Fund claims now done by a app which scans receipts and refund in your account the next day.

    I certainly don't want to do things the old fashioned way as it's too hard.
    11th Apr 2018
    There are many courses available to do, contact your local community centres, adult education or other. I am lucky I have my teenage son who just seems to know everything, I taught him the basics when he was younger and off he went, now is interested in building the things. Books are available from the library, try Dummies for computers.
    Old Geezer
    11th Apr 2018
    Do what your teenage son does. Just play with it, stuff it up and work out how to fix it etc. There is always factory reset if you stuff it up completely. You will soon learn how to use it.
    11th Apr 2018
    I find this article both insulting and patronising. Computers have been around for over 50 years in the workplace and probably 40 years in the home. Mobile devices for at least 15 years. I doubt that except for those over say 80 it really has anything to do with computer literacy. Or at least very little for most people.
    I suspect it is the cost of purchasing the hardware, software and internet access that are the main issues not lack of general knowledge or aptitude. Old people are old not stupid. There would be just as many young families in poverty who would have the same financial barriers.
    Old Geezer
    11th Apr 2018
    Go to any nursing home and many over 80 are using tablets even if it is to play games as they help keep the mind active. Many also just love receiving photos from their family especially of the kids.
    11th Apr 2018
    - and there is a whole other group who see the internet as a huge breach of privacy and security and they just don't want to use IT.
    12th Apr 2018
    Funny thing is that their privacy can be breach much easily by having their snail mail stolen.
    11th Apr 2018
    Although I'm not comprehensively IT literate, I manage to get bye occasionally calling on the services of the nerdy young neighbour.
    To drive a vehicle on public roads necessitates fulfilling a number of lawful requirements.
    Not being aware of any mandated law that requires anyone to own a computer, much less to be conversant with the operation thereof would suggest that (regardless of age) there will exist, and indeed does, a cohort that can manage and yet still be IT illiterate.
    Nowadays it almost seems apparent that everyone is expected to own a computer and/or
    be literate therewith. Anyone doubting that claim obviously hasn't had dealings with Dept Human Services - just for starters.
    The flipside to that being the dinosaurs, crocks, emus (head in sand) that flatly refuse to consider change. This maybe just another case of them asserting their 'rights' - all very well but, like it or not the world will not stop because someone wants to get off. Don't cry "Can't afford it" whilst hiding under a security blanket cos that's easier, try instead - 'Where there's a will there's a way' you don't know what you don't know, till you have a go.

    If it doesn't work out, you won't be the first to have failed.
    11th Apr 2018
    I've never had a problem with Technology. Having internet paying bills and banking from home , great ,less reasons to drive. I don't have much use for mobile phones I do most of my communication by email, but I do have one. I really dislike it when staff assume you can't use it because you have grey hair , more often then not I am better with technology than they are, just because you SMS all day on your mobile doesn't make you a tech whizz. But I have been using technology all my working life as the technology progressed.
    11th Apr 2018
    What ? you have just discovered this?? Makes me boil when everyone expects all to have a computer often leaving the message to go into www. for more information or sometimes the only contact option. A whole bunch of people not only the elderly are getting left behind
    11th Apr 2018
    Time instead to go with the herd mentality - catch up, or at least try. Lions, tigers and hyenas pick off stragglers.
    14th Apr 2018
    I am lucky, although I am older I taught myself the computer, because I was interested -- but it really makes me annoyed that those that do not have an interest in computers and smartphone --or any mobile phone has to be so confussed/leftout/ and also expected to fork out a heap of money for such -- it is a bloody disgrace that anyone is forced into this crap that has taken us back 100 years -- no power NO internet OR Landline -- what happens to an older OR younger person that maybe is NOT WELL and is unable to get help if there is a power outage!?

    Some people do not have any interest in learning a computer or such -- and when you are not interested in something it makes it very hard to learn about it.

    I really feel for those that have no interest and why the hell should they, all because of this #@-------- NBN that half the time doesn't work anyway.
    20th Jun 2018
    I agree with the comments made today about older Australians being left behind with the digital age. I am not in my eighties, but in late sixties and am a baby boomer. I consider myself quite intelligent but even I am struggling and getting frustrated with what is before us at a very fast pace. We are certainly not being considered. My husband is in his mid 70's and he too feels it very much. What is not considered here for one things is that as you get older, some people find it harder to comprehend all the digital jargon. Last week I had to apply for my disability parking permit renewal and fouund that once again it was an online application. The application form was not being accepted for some reason or another and it was becoming more and more frustrating whenever I submitted the answers to the questions. In the end I gave up in disgust and thankfully used the postal option after downloard the online form. If they are going to insist on using digital application forms, for crying out loud, make them easier to understand, navigate and to submit.

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