Digital Inclusion For Seniors
The ongoing stereotype that seniors are not techno savvy or can’t learn new things is pervasive. But this statement doesn’t look at this complex issue with the nuance required.
Let’s have a look at the data around the stereotype and what programs are around to assist older Australians cross the digital divide. But why is this important?
Digital Inclusion is important for every age group and demographic because many companies and government agencies are pushing for their services to be engaged with online. Without been able to access services online it essentially blocks access to these services.
Where Do We Stand?
There is a report that is completed annually called the Australian Digital Inclusion Index. It looks at digital inclusion across the population. It takes into account many factors including geographical location and economic background.
In the 2019 report people aged 65+ are Australia’s least digitally included group with an ADII score of 48. This is 19.5 points lower than the age group most digitally included (25-34). But this gap has narrowed for the first time since 2014.
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What Is Being Done?
The government and private enterprise have recognised this problem and there are many things that have been done to try and narrow this gap. A groups ADII score is based on three key factors: Access; Affordability and Digital Ability. We are going to look at the latter.
Digital Ability is made up of: Attitudes; Basic Skills and Activities. The way in which this area is being targeted for seniors is through programs to change attitudes, teach basic skills and organise activities around digital usage.
Through these steps they hope to increase the digital ability in this age group.
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What Are The Programs?
Tech Savvy Seniors
The Tech Savvy Seniors Program is a joint initiative between Telstra, Federal and State Governments. The program offers online resources and runs free classes through community colleges nationwide.
Removing any cost barrier makes it much more likely people will want to participate. Teaching people the basics is great but this only focuses on one of the three aspects that make up the Digital Ability score.
Be Connected is a government run initiative to target Digital Ability. There are a number of great courses online to teach the basics. These are all free but they are all online.
Their site also connects seniors to local community organisations that share a passion for digital inclusion. But after having a look at some of these I wonder how helpful they would be with libraries coming up in the search. I highly doubt that your local librarian is going to be a great help with your digital ability.
So like Tech Savvy Seniors this program has some good information to get started are targets basic skills only.
Go Digi is a collaboration between Infoxchange and Australia Post with a goal of supporting 300,000 Australians to improve their digital literacy skills. This site has heaps more guides than the other two and covers everything from online dating to mygov.
The articles are all short and to the point and easy to digest. They come with a user star rating as well. So we have a third program targeting basic skills.
This is an organisation that has a very different goal from the others. Their goal is to connect younger and older Australians. Essentially young people volunteer their time to help older people with anything from gardening to shopping AND technology help.
By having technology help as only part of the bigger picture of connection it allows Lively to target two of the measures of the Digital Ability score: attitude & basic skills. It allows them to target attitude as well because Lively is about building a relationship between older and younger Australians.
These are the two groups that a greatest apart in their ADII score and by using the relationship as the basis of the teaching the outcomes are likely to have benefits in both of these areas.
The ASSCA is the Australia Seniors Computer Clubs Association. It is a not for profit organisation whose mission is to assist clubs educate seniors in using their computer technology to enrich their lives and make them more self reliant.
By using existing organisations to teach these skills this is the only group/program that I found targeting all three aspects of Digital Ability.
Seniors who are already members of a seniors group that engages the ASCCA’s assistance are much more likely to attend than if they had to search out these resources themselves. They are also more likely to see attitude changes because the information is coming from a trusted source – the group that they are already part of.
A key aspect of the ASSCA is the ‘computer club’. They aren’t just about supporting training sessions it’s about an ongoing club where people can keep coming to be engaged with activities.