Seniors and woman using laptop in retirement house

Older Australians become better engaged with the digital world when learning social media skills and drawing on their own interests than when learning just the fundamentals of going online. In a new report titled "60+ Online: Engaging Seniors Through Social Media and Digital Stories", Swinburne researchers reveal that the digital literacy of older Australians improves when they are taught digital skills using their own stories and interests compared with when they are taught the mere functionality of online access and operation.

The report reveals older Australians experience the highest level of digital exclusion in the country and there is a “disproportionate number” of seniors who have no understanding of, access to or experience with online technologies.

This can lead to social isolation as well as reduced participation in essential services such as welfare and health and the economic benefits of the emerging digital society.

Lead researcher, Dr Anthony McCosker, says through three skills development workshops with older Australians the research team aimed to ignite the interests of the participants in the digital world and social media by shifting the focus from teaching the operational side of the internet, to learning through the creative side.

Dr McCosker says the research found that “meaningful content creation and managed social media sharing” proved to be the impetus for the seniors not only developing new digital skills but also learning about internet safety, security and privacy and interacting with others online.

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