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3 step guide to understanding non skill related tech barriers

Updated: Jan 21

Shaping Connections Founder and Co Director Dr Torgeir Aleti, recently took part in a panel discussion as part of Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria’s two part webinar series for Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) providers across Australia.

The webinar and panel discussion focused on COTA’s new resource guide aimed at supporting CHSP providers to use the most effective mix of digital and non-digital communications with clients. Access the webinar recordings and resources.

Woman using mobile phone

Dr Aleti took the opportunity to discuss non skill related barriers to learning about technology for older adults, based on research and additional resources available by Shaping Connections, in order to give CHSP providers a greater insight of how they could understand this better while working with their clients.

For example, many older adults internalise stereotypes and develop perceptions of risk that are more associated with confidence.

Dr Aleti touched on the team’s latest research, that has discovered three distinct socialisation processes in older adults about technology:

  • Self-socialisation

  • Reciprocity

  • Outsourcing

1. Self-socialisation involves independent self-help through actively using Google or YouTube (or AI tools) to fill knowledge gaps. People who primarily use self-socialisation to learn about technology need little support. However, they need to get to a threshold level of knowledge before this approach becomes an option.

They have found that it is important to understand whether an older adult primarily uses an outsourcing or reciprocity strategy:

2. Socialisation about technology through reciprocity differs depending on who the older adult learns from. With adult children, it is often the assumption that they should teach their parents about technology in exchange for all the life skills they were taught as children.

With grandchildren, it is often more immediate, while peer learning through things such as technology classes at U3A, learning can come through sharing experiences and insights to find solutions.

3. Outsourcing is particularly common when relying on spouses or adult children. Typically, this means they delay or avoid learning or engaging with technology and instead allow someone else to take care of business.

What CHSP providers can do in 3 steps:

Encourage older adults to:

  1. Download and or interact online with the Shaping Connections self-assessment tool. It is a quick and easy benchmark to start off the conversation.

  2. Read the tool on socialisation agents and ask them what each relationship brings and how they use each source.

  3. Download the digital booklet to learn more about the barriers to confidence and strategies to overcome them or find out which persona best matches their needs through the Shaping Connections interactive Strategy tool, then check with them which strategies might work best.

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