Privacy and security of personal data biggest concerns for senior citizens online

More than half of older people believe they would feel less isolated if they could connect to others online
Life
(L-R) Anne O'Leary, Vodafone Ireland; Seán Moynihan, ALONE; Mary McEvoy, Hi Digital; Maureen Kavanagh, Active Retirement Ireland and Liz Roche, Vodafone Foundation Pic: Naoise Culhane

16 February 2022

When it comes to using the Internet, 60% of older people are concerned about the privacy and security of their personal data. Research from Vodafone Ireland Foundation as part of its Hi Digital programme found that 74% of those aged between 65 and 75 are most nervous using technology when signing up or paying for services online. 

When it comes to seeking support in getting online, half of those surveyed have looked to family members or friends for help with technology, but the other half (51%) said they do not want to bother family members that may be too busy.

Still, 64% of older people said they would be comfortable learning new internet or digital skills if they had someone to help them, while 61% think that improved digital skills would have a positive impact on their lives. Another 58% believe they would feel less isolated if they could connect to others using the internet. 

 

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Vodafone Ireland Foundation’s Hi Digital learning platform has been designed for people over the age of 65 with the support of programme partners, Alone and Active Retirement Ireland. The platform is made for beginners to grow self-confidence with the online basics and support those who are helping to guide them with their digital learning. 

During the pandemic, 79% of older people admitted that technology enhanced their ability to stay in touch with loved ones, and 65% of over 75s said that the pandemic had given them a better understanding of the importance of technology.  

It found 38% have visitors to their home less frequently than once a month while 40% speak to family or friends every day. Nearly a third (28%) of those over the age of 75 said the pandemic had encouraged them to use technology to connect. The main benefits of using the internet were its ability to allow them to do things more easily (44%) and keep in touch with others 43%.

Anne O’Leary, CEO, Vodafone Ireland, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the response to the Hi Digital programme and the level of demand we have seen since the programme launch in 2021 with 15,000 users signed up and almost 20,000 sessions completed.” 

“Our research has found that there is a real desire amongst our older people to get online. Hi Digital aims to make this a reality by supporting older people with the help of our charity partners ALONE and Active Retirement Ireland. Our online programme and classes we hope will help decrease isolation and loneliness, allowing older people to stay more connected to family and friends and their community.  

“We know that the pandemic has caused unprecedented suffering and isolation for many, but as we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, we want to make it even more accessible for older people in our society to gain confidence online. We hope to empower and increase digital literacy amongst older people and through the power of connectivity, help them to become more confident online.” 

“Older people are eager to improve their digital skills in order to be digitally literate and confident while on the internet,” said Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone. “The positive impact that technology is having on older people’s lives was seen during the depths of the pandemic, most importantly with families being able to see each other’s faces while social isolating was at a peak. Now more older people see technology as empowering them in all aspects of their lives and we are here to help.” 

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, added: “We know that many older people in Ireland face digital exclusion as more and more communication, services and opportunities move online. The Hi Digital programme and partnership between Vodafone Ireland, Active Retirement Ireland and ALONE aims to address this by supporting older people to learn essential online skills and build confidence using the internet, empowering them to stay connected in a changing world. “

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