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Mentoring older Australians

This qualitative research explores ways that family, friends and peers of older Australians can encourage them to increase their online engagement.

In 2018 eSafety research indicated that three quarters of people who are ‘digitally disengaged’ are aged 70+.  

At the same time, other research commissioned by eSafety reveals considerable willingness among those with some digital skills to provide reverse mentoring (younger people mentoring older people) and peer mentoring for older Australians who have low digital literacy.

For example, in eSafety’s 2017 Youth Digital Participation Survey, 59% of young people aged 8 to 17 reported showing an older family member how to use technology, with a higher proportion for teens at 75%, and for young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, at 66%.

eSafety undertook the current research to:

  • identify the type of resources and support that family members, friends and peers need to teach new digital skills to older Australians over 70 years
  • identify the level of support that family members, friends and peers may need to be confident in providing ‘digital’ support to loved ones aged 70 years and over
  • obtain constructive feedback on the type of content and resources embedded in the Be Connected website.

Key findings

  • Participants overwhelmingly believed that it is important for older Australians to have better digital skills, largely for their own benefit.
  • Perceived benefits of better digital skills include access to goods and services, being able to pursue personal interests, alleviating social isolation and providing more independence and confidence.
  • The main barriers to helping older Australians gain better digital skills, as seen by mentors, were lack of time, patience, confidence and the potential logistical challenges — such as transport to venues.

About the research

Data in this report is drawn from:

  • Two online forums conducted with 90 participants, aged 30 to 59, who were family friends, relatives or peers of someone aged 70+. Participants in each online forum were presented with discussion topics over five days.
  • eSafety’s 2017 Youth Digital Participation Survey — a national survey of 3,017 young people in Australia aged 8 to 17. The survey explored online safety themes in addition to questions on how young people are assisting older family members with digital technologies and the internet.

Related researchDigital behaviours of older Australians (2018)

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