Seniors wanted for tech mentoring roles

Digitally literate older Australians are being called upon to mentor their less-savvy counterparts as part of a year-long initiative to enhance the nation’s digital skills.

Digitally literate older Australians are being called upon to mentor their less-savvy counterparts as part of a year-long initiative to enhance the nation’s digital skills.

Go Digi, a partnership between not-for-profit social enterprise Infoxchange and Australia Post, launched the National Year of Digital Inclusion late last month to drive a national conversation about digital literacy and help improve the digital skills of some 300,000 Australians.

Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs said around one in five Australians were not online and were therefore unable to take advantage of the education, health and social benefits of being connected.

“Research has found the major barriers to digital engagement are skills and confidence,” Mr Spriggs said.

The year-long initiative will feature community pop up festivals, conversation forums and face-to-face learning events in every state and territory. It is a key component of the Go Digi four-year digital literacy program being delivered by the two organisations to enhance digital inclusion in Australia.

The program also aims to sign up 10,000 mentors to offer support to friends, family and work colleagues.

Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association president Nan Bosler said the National Year of Digital Inclusion was an important opportunity for older Australians.

“Mentoring is going to play an important role because at the moment, there are many seniors who see no value and no importance in being connected to the internet, and they’re going to need some mentoring,” Ms Bosler told Technology Review.

“Someone is going to have to sit and talk with them, and say ‘well, look it’s not difficult to do and look at the changes you can have once you can connect to your family’. And what a difference it’s going to make.”

Ms Bosler called upon digitally literate seniors to take up a mentoring role.

“If you know how to use a computer or mobile device, I’d encourage you to share some of your knowledge with others. Be a mentor – what you can do for somebody else is important.”

Nan Bosler and Go Digi Mentor
Nan Bosler (right) with a Go Digi mentor

Mentors don’t need to be ‘gurus’

Almost 90 percent of Australians have been asked to assist others with online activities, but six in 10 have avoided helping those in need of online support, according to a Go Digi national poll.

“Around 50 per cent of people think they are not experienced enough or not a good teacher, but you don’t need to be a technology guru to help someone,” Mr Spriggs said.

“If we all help one person, before we know it everyone will have the skills they need to engage with the online world.”

Go Digi has offered the following tips to consider when helping someone build their digital skills and confidence include:

  • Begin a conversation
  • Start slow
  • Write down steps
  • You don’t have to know all the answers
  • Arrange follow up sessions

For more tips and information, go to Go Digi’s online mentoring pageTo get involved in the National Year of Digital Inclusion, visit the Go Digi website or call 03 9418 7487.

Snapshot of the Go Digi national poll

  • 89 per cent of Australians have been asked at some stage to provide assistance to others in regards to digital, technology or online-related activities.
  • 58 per cent of those surveyed have actively avoided helping their lesser digitally capable counterparts, with five per cent claiming they regularly avoid it.
  • Perceived barriers to providing support include:
    • 54 per cent feel they are not experienced enough to help others
    • 49 per cent say helping others with technology is not a priority for them
    • 47 per cent say they don’t believe they have sufficient digital skills to assist others
    • 32 per cent say they don’t have enough spare time to help
    • 31 per cent think they don’t have enough patience to help
  • respondents say that they are most likely to be asked for advice about computers (62 per cent), followed by mobile phones (22 per cent) and tablet devices (8 per cent)
  • 51 per cent say they help most of the time when asked to provide assistance,  32 per cent say they help some of the time, 14 per cent rarely and 2 per cent say they never help
  • Those aged 18 to 34 years old (61 per cent) were significantly more likely than older people to say they help most of the time
  • those aged 50 years and over were more likely to agree that everyone needs good digital skills as many services are being moved online

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Tags: australia-post, australian-seniors-computer-clubs-association, david-spriggs, go-digi, infoxchange, nan bosler, national-year-of-digital-inclusion,

2 thoughts on “Seniors wanted for tech mentoring roles

  1. The Broadband for Seniors Project has been funded by the Commonwealth Government for years and is for older people to spend their time assisting older people learn a range of computer, phone, tablet, ipad skills. Its a pity someone didnt do their homework and look at this program that has been successfully running for years rather than try to recreate the wheel. Any help is appreciated and I think you had a golden opportunity here thats been wasted! Well done and good luck.

  2. The 95 year old I have been teaching iPad iOS to is in a rural location with no internet at all. He has to use the sole mobile tower ..when it’s working ..and it’s out for weeks at a time..the main issue is being able to get a connection at all. Teaching is easy once one realizes that young people don’t understand that much of the it language they use encodes complex ideas. Once this barrier is overcome its pretty easy..even over a thousand km into the country. The most common complaint at the socalled broadband access(100km away and he can’t drive) is that the young people supposed to help don’t understand this! It was just the same in metro Sydney before he moved out

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