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New Report: Older Australians and the Internet

05 October, 2011
By Allison Orr

With the Internet becoming an ever increasing part of daily life, those who are not Net savvy can become disadvantaged when it comes to accessing services online.  This is particularly important as government and business services increasingly move online.

A new report, Older Australians and the Internet: bridging the digital divide, by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, investigates what older Australians know about online services, how they could use them to improve their lives, and identified the kinds of support needed to bridge barriers across the digital divide.

The research found that many respondents were aware of the services available online and indicated interest in services that would enable them to search for information on health issues, communicate with friends or family, make appointments, and make cheap phone calls.  However, two-thirds of respondents indicated they had \"very low\" Internet skills.

The research highlighted the main barriers to Internet use among older Australians as lack of knowledge and skills, and cost (40%).  This was higher among women and those on low-incomes and pensions.  The existence of free Internet kiosks are less beneficial to older people, who remain largely unaware of these services and lack transport to get to them, and are more comfortably using Internet in their own home.

The report makes recommends that the Australian Government and relevant stakeholders work on developing a national action plan that focuses specifically on improving Internet access and use by older people.

Click on the link above to read the full report.

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