The way the older Australians use technology is changing

According to the latest research from National Senior Australians, older Australians have improved their digital skills over the last four years. Professor John McCallum, CEO of Nation Seniors Australia, highlights the Covid -19 Pandemic as playing a significant role in this, with lockdowns forcing people to embrace digital communication.

There is still a natural lag in technology usage due to lack of exposure.

Here’s where the differences lie:

Mobile Phones

In 2018 just 49% of seniors’ mobile abilities were classified as good or excellent. However, since then, mobile phone proficiency has increased dramatically, with over 63% of seniors understanding and excelling in mobile phone skills.

As stated in the chart above, a heavy increase in mobile phone adaptability was made for those over 60 years. This increase may result from the evolving changes to smartphones becoming more fashionable with older demographics.

 Computers

Although mobile phone usage has increased, computer usage is in decline. Even those over 80 years of age completing the survey on a desktop fell from 60% to 52 %. Meanwhile, laptops fell from 26% to 22%, an 8% difference.

In contrast, the youngest cohort (50-59) saw a slight increase in laptop usage.

In theory, data predicts all other groups are moving toward smaller screen devices like tablets and mobile phones.

Gender

Women are significantly less likely to use computers for digital purposes than men. Instead, women have a far higher usage of tablets and mobiles than men.

Banking

Seen as the most dramatic increase of all, internet banking among older people saw a drastic increase of 80% compared to 72% in 2018. The convenience of online banking during lockdowns and utilities and government agencies moving to digital-only interfaces were significant factors in this increase.

What does this mean?

There is a lot of variation among different age groups. While the report shows a secure move to digital, “statistics can be a bit misleading—we need to understand people’s digital use in context,” Professor McCosker said.

People in their 50s and 60s, “are still likely to be working and so they are more exposed to technologies and changes in those technologies,” McCosker said. When exposed to new functions and apps—people will be more likely to purchase or upgrade.

“We know that when people get further and further away from work, confidence with digital technologies drops dramatically,” resulting in older people being increasingly left behind and aware of the digital divide with the younger generations.”

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