Shaping Connections is a research program co-created by RMIT University’s School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, and University of Third Age (U3A). The program seeks to understand better how technology use supports seniors connectedness and enhances social inclusion and participation.
Why is social exclusion a problem?
Research shows that 44% of people aged over 65 years’ experience social exclusion, which is twice the rate of exclusion for other age groups. Further, at least 10% of senior Australians suffer from loneliness or social isolation, a number that has failed to drop over the last two decades.
Consequently, increased social inclusion for older Australians is a central goal of the Australian government. Our focus is on social connectedness to address this inclusion goal.
Connectedness enhances older adult’s wellbeing and has a positive effect on their physical
and mental health.
Our research indicates that many Australian seniors are sophisticated ICT users. Some are active social connectors, assisting those who wish to bridge the digital divide. Scepticism towards new technology exist amongst seniors, and younger family members are often involved in assisting seniors with ICT. Our future steps will focus on three points:
Perceptions of risk around ICT usage
Social connectors and their role in ICT engagement
Intergenerational challenges and ICT