Millions of older Australians missing out online

Latest research from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has revealed that around 2.7 million Australians aged 50 years and over have little or no engagement with the online world.

The research also shows that a major fear factor exists among older Australians who have low digital literacy—technology often proves to be intimidating, reinforced by a lack of confidence to ask for help or knowledge of where to get help.

“We know anecdotally that older Australians can be a more trusting generation—our research bears this out, with 40 per cent of those aged 50 and over experiencing a computer virus or being the victim of a scam, credit card or personal information theft,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“In an increasingly digital world, we need to ensure all Australians have the skills and confidence to engage online safely and enjoy the many positive benefits of the internet.”

The eSafety Office, in partnership with the Department of Social Services, is delivering the Be Connected program to provide resources and support training to increase the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians.

Further findings from the research show older Australians face significant barriers to increasing their internet use, including lack of knowledge about how to use devices and how to perform tasks online.

“Our research tells us that half of Australians aged 50 years and over actually want to use the internet more and they’d be more likely to do so if given the chance to improve their digital literacy and skills,” Julie said.

While the research shows about 4 million older Australians are keen to improve their digital literacy, they also want help addressing online safety and security concerns. The Be Connected website addresses the online safety and security needs of older Australians by providing resources and training on highly relevant topics, such as how to avoid online scams.

The research also reveals that while 50 per cent were happy to use online resources, 72 per cent of older Australians prefer face to face, one-on-one coaching. As part of the Be Connected program, a national network of community groups is delivering free face to face coaching, supported by the Good Things Foundation Australia.

Good Things Foundation National Director Jess Wilson said: “We’re excited to have over 1,200 community organisations across the country in the Be Connected Network, from libraries to retirement villages, community centres to Men’s Sheds, all supporting older Australians to get online. Join our growing network to help older Australians thrive in a digital world.”