In recent years, the internet has become an essential tool for living. Whether making bookings, receiving updates on superannuation or shares, downloading university lectures or filling in government forms, the internet is the first option for more and more Australians.
More people use internet-based communications to stay in touch with friends and family quickly and cheaply. Health and business services are increasingly migrating to the web, seeking lower costs and easier access.
It is a profound shift in the way we live, but some older Australians are finding it hard to keep up. Older people with low internet skills are unable to conduct business or access important services over the web. They can be isolated from their community and family at a time in their lives when feeling connected is very important. In short, they are often on the wrong side of ‘the digital divide’.
Previous research and existing data on internet connections and usage suggest that many older Australians will not have the skills, interest or resources to take advantage of the National Broadband Network.
This study set out to explore how the web could improve the daily life of older people. It has identified the barriers to internet use that exist for the over 50s, and what kind of support is needed to overcome these and bridge the digital divide.
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