Older persons face digital exclusion despite enthusiasm for new technology, Australian study finds
Older people in Australia are on the whole enthusiastic about embracing new technology, but continue to be digitally excluded because service providers and the larger community exclude them from the digital experience, a new report by YourLink and PwC has found.
Surveying over 600 older persons, the Digital Paradox for Seniors report shows that with guidance, older persons are curious and engaged when they are introduced to new technology. They are also frustrated by the assumptions made about them and their (lack of) readiness to participate.
Richard Scenna, co-founder of YourLink, said, “The community has put seniors in the box of ‘they don’t understand technology so they won’t be able to grasp it. Support networks are structured in a way that aren’t conducive to helping seniors tap into them. Eighty per cent of the report’s respondents relied on friends and family, and that help is often unavailable because those people are too busy or live too far way.”
Only 2% of respondents identified a care worker as a technology support option, which represents a missed opportunity. The report emphasises that all parts of the senior care ‘ecosystem’ need to be engaged in fostering digital inclusion of older people, including family and friends, care workers and other service providers, and community care organisations. Retailers also need to be mindful of how increasingly digitally led consumer experiences can exclude older customers.
The report also found that many older people are unaware of the help that is available to them to acquire digital skills, for example through libraries. Awareness-raising through traditional methods – such as print flyers, newspaper, and radio – and referral programmes is an effective way of letting older persons know about technology support and digital skills development schemes.