Busting the myths: Older Aussies more tech-savvy than many realise

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The new report challenges the stereotype that Baby Boomers are not proficient at using digital technology. Source: Getty

There may be a misconception among younger generations that older Aussies can be out of touch when it comes to things like mobile phones and social media. But new research has finally busted the myth once and for all and found many are more tech savvy than people may realise.

The new report, Senior Surfers, released today by National Seniors Australia, finally challenges the false stereotype of older Aussies not being proficient at using digital technology. The online survey of more than 4,500, whose ages ranged from over 50 to those in their 90s, found 70 per cent of older Australians use the internet everyday and 40 per cent use Facebook daily, with almost 20 per cent of those aged 80 and over.

The survey also found 63 per cent don’t feel technology is designed for younger generations and 68 per cent don’t feel frustrated using new technology.

National Seniors CEO, Professor John McCallum, said the report findings challenge negative stereotypes that portray older adults as digitally illiterate and out-of-touch, saying: “There are just too many blanket statements that are very negative about older people’s skills, such as ‘they’re behind the times’, ‘they’re digitally illiterate’ or ‘there is a digital divide between young and old’.”

The report categorised survey respondents into four groups: super surfers, savvy surfers, sometimes surfers and seldom surfers. Those categorised as super surfers were very comfortable using digital technology in their everyday lives and accounted for 31.4 per cent of respondents, while savvy surfers (41.6 per cent) were also comfortable browsing the internet but didn’t use digital technology as frequently.

McCallum said the super surfers are more likely to be women, and those who are in good health, still working and with children, adding: “The odds of being a ‘Super Surfer’ are also higher for participants with children, who are in good health and still participating in the work force.”

On the other hand, sometimes surfers (21.8 per cent) use digital technology when necessary but aren’t always comfortable and proficient and those categorised as seldom surfers can use the internet and digital technology but rarely do – accounting for just 5.2 per cent of respondents.

Meanwhile, McCallum also said the research shows that those aged 80 and over are also pretty savvy when it came to using digital technology. “You would expect that people who are 80+ would be those left behind by these technologies,” he explained. “Our research shows that over half those 80+ used an internet search engine everyday and more than 50% of these did online banking once a week if not daily.”

However, he also warned those who have less skills are “more likely to be victims of scams than those who are more skilled”, adding: “They’re also likely to find the costs of mobile and internet services a barrier to them using the internet and devices.”

It comes after a new report revealed that one in four retirees – categorised as those aged 65 and over – have lost more than $1,000 of their hard-earned cash to credit card fraud. The report of 1,500 credit card holders from comparethemarket.com.au, which was released on Monday, found that the older you become, the more susceptible you are to credit card fraud.

Those aged 55 and over, referred to as Baby Boomers in the report, were the next age group targeted the most when it came to credit card scams, with 22 per cent losing $1,000 or more after having their credit card details skimmed. In comparison, a fifth (20 per cent) of those aged 25 to 34 fell victim to a credit card scam and only 11 per cent of those aged under 25 were targeted. However, the survey also found almost a third (32 per cent) of retirees try to avoid using their credit card online.

Rod Attrill, the resident money expert at comparethemarket.com.au, said older Australians are more likely to become a victim of these types of scams, as “those heading into the later years of their life are having to keep up with the fast-paced nature of a cashless society which can prove both difficult and costly.”

He added that this particular age group are also more prone to scams as they’re perceived as having more wealth compared to their younger counterparts, “which makes them an attractive target when grabbing card details”. Attrill continued: “This is why it’s vital for any consumer, old and young alike, to be extra vigilant anytime they use their credit card for online purchases or even when withdrawing money at an ATM.”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with the survey? Do you use the internet often? Do you feel confident using digital technology?

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