New research released today by National Seniors Australia, the peak advocacy body for older Australians, challenges the stereotype that seniors are being “left behind” by digital technology.

Titled ‘Senior Surfers’, the online survey of more than 4,500 members, whose ages range from over 50 to those in their 90s, found:

·         70% use an internet search engine everyday

·         40% use Facebook daily (including close to 20% of those aged 80+)

·         63% don’t feel technology is designed for younger generations

·         68% don’t feel frustrated using new technology

National Seniors CEO, Professor John McCallum says it challenges negative stereotypes about older Australians and technology.

“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.” said Professor McCallum.

The survey categorised respondents into four groups based on their digital literacy. These are:

·         SUPER SURFERS – Someone very comfortable using digital technology in their everyday lives. 31.4% of respondents were rated in this category.

·         SAVVY SURFERS – Someone who is very comfortable using digital services but not as frequently as ‘Super Surfers’. 41.6% of respondents were rated in this category.

·         SOMETIMES SURFERS – Someone who uses digital technology when necessary but are not always comfortable or proficient. 21.8% were rated in this category.

·         SELDOM SURFERS – Someone who can use the internet and digital technology but rarely do. Just 5.2% were rated in this category.

Professor McCallum says the ‘Super Surfers’ are more likely to be women.

“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.” he said.

One respondent said in the survey, “Many of us are beyond ‘good’ and would rate ourselves as excellent.”

Another respondent wrote, “I was part of the generation that developed the online world and I think understands it sometimes better than the younger generation.”

Professor McCallum pointed to the high levels of digital activity of those over 80.

“You would expect that people who are 80+ would be those left behind by these technologies.

“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.

“The message from this is, it is a good idea to be digitally literate before you get into your 80s so you can enjoy the ease of access to family, friends and finances.” he said.

But he also says there is a financial and social impact by not being skilled in digital technology

“Those who have less skills are more likely to be victims of scams than those who are more skilled.

“They’re also likely to find the costs of mobile and internet services a barrier to them using the internet and devices.

“What we are looking at here is digital literacy as the new factor in the accumulative disadvantage experienced by vulnerable older Australians.” said Professor McCallum.

At Mobile Gear, we specialise in help the elder generation overcome there technology problems.  We pride ourselves in being patient and kind.  We have many many clients who have experienced a technology problem and who have found the mobile device industry less than patient in overcoming these challenges.

Some problems that we frequently overcome are email setup problems, data recovery situations, we have a situations where a partner has died and the living partner has not known all the passwords for the devices.  As we age, and data becomes more and more digital, it is important that access information is written down and kept in a safe place, just like wills and other important information.

Another common aspect that we help people of varying ages, and unfortunately older people especially is when they are scammed.  If anyone ever rings you and tells you for whatever reason that they need access to your laptop, it is a scam.  Do not give people access to your devices.

Viruses, phishing and other forms of online threats are also a recurring theme.  It is important to keep an up-to-date virus scanner on your computer and your tablet and your phone. 

Backing Up.  So many older people tell us they don’t know how to back up.  Look on our website www.mobilegear.com.au we have all the instructions on how to back up here.  It is heartbreaking when people loose there data, precious photos etc.  Please back up!  If you have old broken phones or laptops with data on them, bring them or send them to us, and we will do our best to recover the data onto a thumb drive.

Lastly, we are all about saving the planet.  Our mission is to keep phones and other devices in the market for longer, that is why we have a range of renewed phones, see our website for our current stock.  Along with this we have compostable phone cases that last 3 months after you finish using them, not 1000 years.  Did you know that every toothbrush you have ever had in your life still exists?  Plastic is ruining the planet, entering the food chain and is a disaster.  Do what you can to limit your plastic use.  It is actually everywhere, so this is a challenge that we all have to embrace

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