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Description

What do older Australians who never or rarely use the Internet know about the types of online products and services available to them, and how they might use these products and services to improve their daily life?

This project aims to support current and future strategies and initiatives by:

1) exploring the extent to which non-users are aware of the types and benefits of online products and services, (such as e-shopping, e-banking, e-health, social networking, and general browsing and research) as well as their interest in them

b) identifying how the Internet can improve the daily life of older Australians

c) reviewing the effectiveness of support and services designed to educate and encourage older people to engage with the Internet

d) recommending strategies that aim to raise non-user awareness of current and emerging online products and services, and provide non-users with the skills and knowledge needed to use those products and services that they believe can improve their daily life.

Findings

This project found that participants’ interest in using the Internet varied, with 53% of participants indicating their interest in the Internet was ‘moderate’ or above and 46% indicating their interest was ‘nil’ or ‘low’. Similar to findings from the review of existing research, participants who lacked interest in the Internet stated reasons like “too many other interesting activities”, “I would rather speak to people in person or by the phone”, and “I like to have real friends in the real world”.

Almost two-thirds of participants indicated they had ‘very low’ Internet skills. It was somewhat surprising then to find that many participants had used a computer (85% of participants) and the Internet (48%), and 40% of participants had access to the Internet at home.

Despite these findings, the chi-square test for independence found an association between participants’ level of Internet skills and their level of computer skills as well as their access to the Internet and a computer at home. Participants with lower levels of computer skills and no Internet and computer at home were most likely to indicate lower Internet skills.

It was assumed at the start of the project that a key reason why older people lacked interest in the Internet was because they were unaware of the online products and services it offers, and/or had limited exposure or access to computers and the Internet. Many participants were aware of most online products and services listed in the survey (see Appendix 2), and almost two thirds of participants indicated their overall awareness of the Interest was ‘moderate’ or above –although many participants were unaware the Internet could be used to access medical records and make cheap phone calls.

This project found that online products and services of most interest to participants were those that would enable them to generally search and browse the Internet, find information on health topics, communicate with friends and family, search timetables/directories, make bookings and appointments, and make cheap phone calls.

Related research

The Ageing Well in the Information Society Action Plan, European Commission

 

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