If your grandkids have ever teased you about your lack of tech skills, you can show them this story – because the stereotype that older people aren’t interested in technology has been revealed as just that, a stereotype.
Far from not knowing your Facebook from your Instagram or being disinterested in the efficient the digital world can provide, the Digital Paradox for Seniors report found that older Australians beat many other demographics in their enthusiasm to embrace technology.
In fact, the only thing holding back older people from doing more with technology was the lack of opportunity to learn how. (That a bit of guidance is needed should be a surprise given today’s seniors were adults by the time mobiles landed on shelves, so haven’t spent their whole lives immersed in smart devices.)
“The lack of confidence is a myth,” Richard Scenna, co-founder of study sponsor YourLink, said of the 600 seniors surveyed for the report “It’s actually about a lack of learning opportunities tailored to them and their context.
“When they are introduced to the technology, they are curious and engaged. They are also frustrated by the assumptions made about them and their readiness, or lack of, to participate.”
“The research shows that over 80 per cent of respondents rely on friends and family [to teach them],” Scenna added. “This support is often unavailable because of the time or distance and when [family members] are available, they are focused on ‘fixing’ not teaching. This doesn’t nurture the digital independence seniors value.”
According to the YourLink study, survey participants wanted to ensure they weren’t excluded from the digital wave and were keen to stay connected to society through technology. And they weren’t afraid to do so either, with the majority of research participants were confident when using technology.
If you feel like this but don’t know where to learn more, Scenna suggested getting the family together to teach each other how to use various devices or software, with both youngsters and their grandparents benefitting from the interaction.
This isn’t the first time researchers have busted the myth that older Aussies are out of touch when it comes to technology. This year the Senior Surfers report, released by National Seniors Australia, challenged the stereotype through an online survey of Aussie seniors.
The survey of more than 4,500 people, ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s, found 70 per cent used the internet every day and 40 per cent used Facebook daily.
Professor John McCallum, the CEO of National Seniors Australia, said at the time that the report findings challenged the portrayals of older adults as digitally illiterate and out-of-touch.
“There are just too many blanket statements that are very negative about older people’s skills,” he said.