Welcome to Mind the Grey-Gap

Imagine never accessing the internet! Not being able to send e-mails, pay your bills on line, see the snapshots of the family holiday on Facebook! Around one million people in Australia can’t and most of them are older Australians. 

Welcome to the first post of the campaign!  Mind the Grey-Gap hopes to encourage young people to spend time teaching digital and computer skills to their older family members (or members of their community).  We hope to bring attention to the grey digital divide and demonstrate the importance of having digital literacy skills to participate in modern society.

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Digital literacy is a necessary skill for the modern world.  It contributes to reducing social isolation and protection from online and financial fraud.  Computer and digital literacy skills also allow full access to government services and information.

Young people have these skills, and for us, the digital world has become an important part of our lives.  It’s been shown that computer skills are best taught one-on-one with someone who knows the person’s current skills and understands their needs.  As the need for digital skills becomes more important in our everyday lives, we should step up and find out how we can help an older Australian we know to develop their computer and digital skills.cropped-mind-the-grey-gap-8.png

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The Final Post – Mind the Grey-Gap.

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This is it, the final post from Mind the Grey-Gap!  We hope you’ve been inspired to spend more time with your older family member, teaching them valuable basic digital skills to help this demographic become more digitally included in our modern digitally driven society.

The ‘grey-gap’ refers to the grey digital divide, a social phenomenon of low digital engagement among older people.  This has many implications for social, health, financial inclusion and independence – which is why digital literacy is necessary to able to fully participate in society. A lack of knowledge and motivation are big barriers to learning these essential basic digital skills.  Young people have the skills, knowledge, established relationship and time to teach an older Australian in their lives about computer and digital literacy.

We hope young people will use their computer and digital skills to help close the grey digital divide.  There are many advantages of young people being the ones to help make this happen.  We want to see older Australians overcome the barriers to learning and develop competencies in the five basic digital areas.  Ask an older family member if they would like some help to develop their digital skills.

Here are some learning and information resources to help teach your older family members the digital skills they need:

https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au

https://www.godigi.org.au

https://www.telstra.com.au/tech-savvy-seniors/training-guides

Keep your family connected and help to close the grey digital divide.

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What’s Happening in the World of Digital Inclusion?

The issue of the grey digital divide is significant in Australia.  Older Australians remain one of the least digitally included demographics in the country and the gap between older and younger Australians is growing.

There are have been several non-profit and government funded programs in Australia aimed at improving access and knowledge of digital skills.  From early October, a new Australian Government initiative was introduced, targeting digital inclusion for older Australians in the community.

Introducing the Be Connected program.  The program is focused on improving confidence, skills and knowledge of safety in digital technology for Australians over 50.  Interestingly, the program will have a family and community focus to help those with minimal digital engagement.  The program will be developing interactive online training tools and resources to help older Australians as well as their family and community members.

Check out their collection of tutorials and learning materials here: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/blocks/androgogic_catalogue/index.php?tab=catalogue_entry_search&c2=topics

This is a perfect time to encourage young people to help their older family members engage with digital technology and assist them with improving their digital skills.  Take advantage of this developing program’s aim to help people mentor their older family or friends.

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Keep your family connected – help close the grey digital divide.

The Ongoing Issue of the Grey Digital Divide.

Recent research confirms that the grey digital divide is still a pertinent issue in society in the broader context of digital inclusion.

Researchers at RMIT published the 2017 Australian Digital Inclusion Index which highlights issues with access, affordability and digital ability regarding digital and technology in Australia over the past few years.

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Older Australians (those aged 65 and above) are the least digitally included age group.  The gap in levels of digital inclusion between younger age groups and older Australians is disconcertingly increasing.  Though there has been improvement in levels of access and digital ability, there remains a significant issue in relation to the negative correlation between age and digital inclusion.

More specific issues mentioned by the report include the digital inclusion gap between men and women in the older age groups (with women having lower levels of access and digital ability) as well as noting the impact of lower incomes on network access,

This index highlights the importance of recognising the issue within our society – we should all think about how we as individuals can help the older Australians we know to improve their access and digital ability.

Keep your family connected – help close the grey digital divide.

http://apo.org.au/system/files/97751/apo-nid97751-406201.pdf

Why We Should Teach [Closing the Grey Digital Divide].

A lack of digital ability and a lack of motivation are two of the barriers to digital inclusion for older Australians.  There are several reasons why young people should be the ones to help in the effort to close the grey digital divide. 

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By encouraging young people to teach their older family and community members about digital and computer technology, we hope that we can take advantage of these benefits and create the best solution for the issue of digital inclusion disparity.

Research suggests this type of teaching is the most effective and the most preferred method.  One-on-one tutoring helps with confidence and learning.  Focusing on skills that are immediately transferrable to their lives is important and a study found that seniors not yet using the internet had a clear preference for private learning settings.

Family, family friends and community members are more familiar with the current knowledge of older learners and are more sensitive to individual issues.

Although there are local classes and government initiatives aimed at this issue, by teaching your older family member you can help complement these by providing extra support and targeted learning. It’s more helpful to approach the issue from the perspective of family and the community surrounding older Australians.

Try to think about ways you can help teach computer and digital skills to an older Australian in your life.

Barriers to learning digital skills for older Australians

We want to encourage young people to teach computer and digital skills to older Australians.  These skills need to fit with what they need and want to learn, build on what they already know and be relevant.  We are in a key position to understand the learning needs of an older Australian we know compared to other available resources and classes: We can be more familiar with their situation, what is specifically relevant to them and teach individually.

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It’s important to recognise the barriers to learning, and ultimately digital inclusion, for older Australians.

There are three major factors prevent improving digital literacy skills in terms of the grey digital divide.  These are a lack of access to technology, lack of knowledge and digital skills, and lack of motivation or perceived need for learning new computer and digital skills.

  1. Access to technology – part of the issue relates to the demographic having lower incomes.

  2. Lack of digital ability

  3. Motivation to learn

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In addition to these barriers, older women have a lower overall level of digital inclusion than men.

By understanding the barriers to learning we are better equipped to help our older family members with improving their computer and digital skills and help close the grey digital divide.

10 Essential Digital Skills Older Australians Should Know.

Do your older family members know these 10 essential digital skills?

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Older Australians are one of the least digitally included demographics.  Basic computer and digital skills are important for everyone to have.  What are the essential skills we should make sure the older Australians we know have?

The Tech Partnership sets out a number of basic digital skills in their framework.  They group basic digital capability into five areas; managing information, communicating, transacting, problem solving and creating.

Using ideas from the five areas, we at Mind the Grey-Gap believe these are the top basic skills you need to make sure the older Australians in your life have:

  1. Email
  2. Making online purchases
  3. Basic online privacy & security
  4. Web forms
  5. Smart phone and apps
  6. Using a search engine
  7. Word processing
  8. Online banking
  9. Manage photos and documents
  10. How to find help for problem solving

Take a look at the Get Digital basic skills assessment questions to see what levels of digital capability to look out for.  The further framework emphasises the importance of safety and security in all areas of digital skills.

https://www.thetechpartnership.com/globalassets/pdfs/basic-digital-skills-standards/basic-digital-skills-assessment-questions.pdf

Ask an older Australian if they need your help improving their digital skills today!  Keep your family connected – help close the grey digital divide.

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Don’t Leave Your Grandparents Behind! The Benefits and Necessity of Digital Literacy.

There is a wide significance for the development of computer and digital skills in older Australians.  There are both social impacts and daily necessities for developing these skills.

Don’t leave your older family and community members behind in society – it should be important to us that they can survive and thrive in our modern world, where an increasing reliance on digital and computer technology is shaping the way we navigate our everyday lives.

The Good Things Foundation notes how acquiring digital skills are especially difficult for older adults, both through issues with motivation and access.  The positive impact these skills can have on their lives, however, are great.  Social and financial inclusion, access to health information and government services are some of the most important.  But digital skills could have further impacts that we wouldn’t necessarily think about straight away.  For such a digitally excluded demographic, pursuing education or employment that required digital understanding would be an important area as well as simply giving a chance at greater independence.

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A key reason why we should be engaging with our older family members is the growing trend for governments to be moving their services online.

The necessity for digital skills is only growing.  Don’t leave your older family members behind – start improving their digital inclusion today.

Beyond the Basics: Don’t ignore online safety.

Don’t leave your older family members unprotected!  Digital literacy skills should include an awareness of online scams, security and privacy concerns and the associated knowledge of how navigate the online world safely.

$229 million was lost to scams in Australia in 2015.  Scam Watch lists online methods, such as email, online shopping and social networking sites, as common targets for a variety of scams.  Helping our older family members learn to identify suspicious online activity is an essential skill to be truly able to safely and confidently participate online. Teaching general rules, such as being wary of any request for details and money and thinking about whether something is too good to be true, are good places to start.

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Equally important should be an emphasis on understanding and implementing appropriate privacy settings and security measures for online accounts.  From the importance of strong passwords to learning about controlling who can see personal photos in Facebook, it is critical that we help older Australians to develop digital literacy skills that include online safety.

Online safety is an issue that affects all ages, but especially when engaging with older family or community members about digital and computer skills, it should not be overlooked.

The Stay Smart Online website has a good and accessible summary of online safety tips and things to watch out for:

https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/protect-yourself

http://ssogreen.govcms.gov.au/sites/g/files/net1886/f/Stay-Smart-Online-My-Guide.PDF

(Graphs from http://www.scamwatch.gov.au)

Digital Literacies.

When you get a new computer or phone, how often do you actually read the instruction manual?  If you access a new style of website or software do you know how to learn how it works?

What does digital literacy mean and what exactly does it encompass?  Generally, literacy refers to competence and knowledge in a certain area.  As for digital and computer literacy, there are many definitions out there but the most interesting and relevant ones are those that emphasises the importance of learning for the future.

When it comes to the internet and computer technology, we are often faced with new, evolving technologies, websites and techniques.

This means not just focusing on understanding current technologies and software but developing strategies for learning new ones through exploration and finding appropriate resources to help.

Dustin Summery proposes a definition of digital literacies (the plural) meaning:

“In whole the essential skills for managing information and communication in the rapidly changing and increasingly digital world that is the 21st Century…rather than locking us into skills and techniques that are relevant now but may change tomorrow, digital literacies make us ready for the present and the future, regardless of what it looks like”.

Teaching older family members about current technology to solve current problems is important but so too is helping them to develop their confidence and skills to learn and approach new technology as it changes.

[Developing Digital Literacies: A Framework for Professional Learning by Dustin C. Summey.]

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