We follow a collaborative network approach to investigating the role of technology in
promoting social connectedness to improve inclusion among older adults. This approach
involves understanding how collaborative networks shape not only the adoption of
technology but its use in attending the social and instrumental needs of participants of such
Senior Australians are willing to learn and add new digital skills that enable them to live how
they want. Seniors also look for intimate, supportive and rewarding relationships with their
families and recognise that new technologies can help facilitate this. Barriers exist, but they
can be overcome.
To tackle these barriers, we have embarked on a journey to co-create strategies for
constructive engagement with technological solutions to promote connectedness to achieve
social inclusion among older Australians.
What is connectedness
For older Australians, connecting through technology means supporting existing
relationships. This differs from a younger demographic who also use social media and other
platforms for self-presentation and to make new connections.
Connectedness has several meanings for older Australians:
1. Getting information and keeping up-to-date
2. Keep in touch with family and friends
3. Coordinating activities and events
4. Participating in and belonging to communities
5. Having access to products, services and experiences
Barriers to connectedness
There are still some barriers for older Australians when it comes to using technology to
enable social connectedness.
1. Fear of online bullying and scams
2. The belief that digital technology does more harm than good
3. Lack of resources and skills
When it comes to technology, older Australians have their own rhythms for learning and
1. Most seniors believe connection through technology is unavoidable, but they want it
on their own terms.
2. Most prefer to “learn what you need as you go.”
3. Seniors prefer platforms and applications that enable them to control the pace and
content of learning and use.
Agents of socialisation
Socialisation agents are specific sources of information that transmit norms, attitudes,
motivations, and behaviours to learners. When older Australians learn about new
technology, family, semi-formal educational systems and the internet are the most
prominent socialisation agents.
Family plays a vital role in how seniors navigate the technology landscape. However, there is
still some frustration expressed between older Australians and their adult children. Some
seniors experience grandchildren as more tolerant and understanding of their learning
Semi-formal educational systems
Semi-formal education settings play a critical role as socialisation agents, especially in
settings such as U3A computer classes for seniors.
In these settings, seniors interact with peers with similar lived experiences. Their peers are
more prone to use the same pace and mode of socialisation, which makes these settings
effective. Seniors would interchangeably take the role as agent and learner in social
The internet works in tandem with the other socialisation agents. It supplements and
extends existing knowledge and skills. It can help get results quicker.
Many older Australians consult Google or watch videos on YouTube to learn how to use new
features in apps or programs.