Millions of older Australians missing out online

Around 2.7 million Australians aged 50 years and over have little or no engagement with the online world, according to research from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. 

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

“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. 

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

“Our research tells us that half of Australians aged 50 years and over 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,” Ms Inman Grant said. 

While the research showed about four million older Australians were keen to improve their digital literacy, they also wanted 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,” Ms Inman Grant said.

The research also revealed that while 50 per cent were happy to use online resources, 72 per cent of older Australians preferred 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.

Several National Seniors branches are using Be Connected grants to bring digital literacy and social inclusion to their local communities. As well as basic computer training, they are showing learners other ways to use the internet, such as creating photo albums. Opportunities exist for more branches to be involved in the future.

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