Social Inclusion by Combating Distrust of the Internet project

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  • Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association

  • 2009


This research project aimed to investigate and document factors that inhibit or discourage isolated seniors and carers from exploring the Internet. The research also looked to seek a way to change this attitude and identify possible training options. 

Results Achieved

The project conducted focus groups/workshops in the Sydney CBD area and three in regional areas: Woy Woy, Moruya and Cooranbong.  They also conducted 29 face to face interviews. Thirty-five of the 45 seniors who attended the workshops owned a computer and 33 had the Internet.  Six were still using a dial-up connection.

Thirty-five seniors had attended the workshops because they wanted to learn more about using a computer to access the internet.  When asked how they felt about learning more about technology, most said they were curious.  Thirty wanted to try, five were very unsure and one was scared to use the Internet.

Most said they needed encouragement from family members to get them started.  Slightly more than half of workshop participants were hesitant to ask questions until they began to feel comfortable with the group and tutors.

Interestingly, 97% of the attendees felt that it was useful learning in a group environment. Alarmingly, 82% said they understood about internet security; they knew that they needed to have security but were most uncertain how to go about achieving the required level of protection.  This was an issue that needed additional attention.

An eSecurity Forum was held towards the end of the program, which was attended by 77 seniors. Two participants were helped to use accessibility features in the software they were using and told about suitable adaptive technology that was readily available (and moderately priced).  Those who attended the focus groups/workshops/forum are now better informed and benefited from age appropriate training to use the Internet.

There was clear mistrust about banking and giving personal details online.

The main use for the internet was communicating with family and friends and searching for information.

There was considerable frustration when they couldn’t find the information they sought on websites.  The three motivational factors that lead older Australians to use the Internet appear to be:  communication with family and friends; researching and then booking travel; and family history research.  Quite a few of those who participated in the auDA Foundation-funded project have continued to learn more about technology.

What worked well and why?

Those who attended the focus groups/workshops/forum are now better informed and benefited from age appropriate training to use the Internet. The research did not reveal unexpected results but provided reinforcing evidence of the need for cost effective access to the Internet and age appropriate training for older people who would benefit from its use to help combat social isolation.

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