National Seniors Australia has been interested in the digital engagement of its members since 2017 and has found that many of the organisation’s members defy reductive stereotypes of disengaged older people being left behind by new technologies. Previous studies have shown that, while there may be generational preferences for face-to-face rather than online interactions, many older adults use digital technologies frequently and with high levels of ability and comfort.
Since the 2019 report, the lives of older Australians have been severely impacted by the global pandemic arising from the international spread of COVID-19, which began in December 2019 and continues into 2022. Aside from the direct impacts of illness and deaths associated with the virus, older adults have been significantly affected by restrictions put into place by local and federal governments in Australia, as has been reported by National Seniors previously.
One potentially positive outcome in relation to COVID-19 restrictions, is an uptake in the use of digital technologies by older Australians. Digital inclusion has been linked to age, with older adults less likely to be digitally included. Yet, older people have diverse and complex relationships with digital technology. This new report captures how changes in digital engagement over the last three years present frustrations but also exciting opportunities in everyday life.