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Seniors boost their digital skills

Seniors boost their digital skills

Older Australians are turning to digital communications like email, zoom and social media like never before, thanks to the COVID pandemic restrictions.

Research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shows the number of people aged 75-plus who use social media doubled from 18 percent in June 2019, to 41 percent in June 2020.

Emailing increased from 37 percent in 2019 to 81 percent in 2020. Use of messaging/calling applications and mobile texting also increased significantly.

“The digital divide between younger and older Australians has narrowed, with this trend accelerated by the desire to maintain contact with friends and family during lockdowns,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

77 percent of Australians in June 2020 had used an application to make voice calls, video calls or send messages in the last six months, up from 67 percent in 2019.

More than one in three Australians increased their use of social networking apps following the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions.

“After years of gradual drift towards communications and social media applications, we have now seen a more pronounced shift in the way Australians connect,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“More people are relying on social networking apps and mobile communication services like Facebook Messenger and Zoom to stay connected.”

Other findings from the research:

  • In regional locations, use of nearly all communication services increased. Messaging/calling apps increased from 48 percent in 2019 to 73 percent in 2020
  • Facebook was the most used social networking app for all age groups, used by 93 percent of social network users, followed by YouTube (73 percent), Instagram (57 percent) and WhatsApp (48 percent)
  • The report shows a continuation of the long-term trend of declining use of fixed-line home phone services for all age groups except those aged 75-plus – their usage was unchanged since 2019
  • Nearly all (99 percent) adult Australians used a mobile phone in the previous six months to June 2020.

National Seniors is an enthusiastic partner in a federal government funded program called Be Connected, which helps older Australians learn more about using the internet, including communicating over digital technologies.

Be Connected is a free program of key advice, lessons, and practical tips to help you become more involved, whilst being safe and secure, in the online world.

You learn at your own pace with free courses on everything from how to access the internet, make video calls or set up your device. There’s more information here.

Source: National Seniors Australia

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