Friday, 19 August 2011

Internet barriers put older Australians at risk

More than 40% of older Australians say the internet is too expensive, putting them at risk of being excluded from important online health and financial services, new research shows.

Dr Sandra Haukka, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), said seniors, particularly pensioners, risked being left behind as businesses and governments shifted more services to the web. Dr Haukka's nationwide study, Older Australians and the Internet, surveyed 149 participants aged 50 and older who were members of National Seniors Australia. It also included in-depth interviews with seniors who did not use or rarely used the internet, including those who lived in urban, regional, rural and remote areas.

Major findings in the report included:

- 53% of participants said their interest in the internet was 'moderate' or 'above', while 46% said their interest was 'nil' or 'low'.
- Almost two-thirds of participants said they had 'very low' internet skills.
- More than 40% of participants said cost was a barrier to using the internet.
- One-third (34%) of participants said the internet would improve their daily life.

"Many seniors told us they need one-on-one help, more cheap classes, equipment, a helpline and clear instructions," Dr Haukka said.

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