Socialisation agents for seniors learning about technology –
Our interest in socialisation agents arose from a survey we conducted to members of Life Activities Clubs Victoria (LACVI) in 2019. LACVI is a not-for-profit organisation that provides physical, social, recreational, educational and motivation support for mature aged Victorians.
What are socialisation agents?
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 prominent socialisation agents.
The survey was aimed at helping LACVI better understand its members such as their demographic information, member involvement, life satisfaction and wellbeing and travel patterns. It also provided us with an opportunity to ask questions to their members questions regarding technology use and how those that support them learn about or deal with technology (agents of socialisation).
With over 850 members responding, the findings were revealing and prompted us to ask further questions to older Australians in order to understand the underlying reasons that justify some of the behavioural patterns observed in the survey.
With the support of U3A, we conducted group interviews with some of the U3A members to further explore emerging themes. For example, we asked seniors questions about the role of grandchildren and peers within semi-educational learning settings, like computer clubs and senior networks.
LACVI survey technology usage and socialisation findings:
Nearly three quarters of surveyed members owned a smartphone (70%) and just over half owned an iPad/Tablet (53%) or laptop (51%) followed by desktop computers (42%). Only a small group (3%) of surveyed members reported not owning any digital device.
The technology devices owned by seniors were often hand-me-downs from other younger family members. As a result, many seniors owned devices without feeling confident using them.
Surveyed participants were most comfortable with computers and least comfortable with tablets. This was not surprising, as computers are the oldest technology (thus, more familiar). The lower ratings for smartphones and tablets could be related to lower confidence in navigating a different operating system, mainly based on single-purpose apps.
When seeking help regarding technology-related problems:
children were the most popular source of support with technology devices (39%) and 17% indicated they were their second option.
Professionals were the second most favoured option as well as grandchildren (14%).
Other sources of help were ‘another family member’ or 'self-socialisation' through the internet (Google or YouTube).[SP1]
It was clear that adult children were the primary socialisation agent for technology products. On the other hand, siblings or friends of the same age seemed to be a poorer source for advice about technology and participants relying on these sources found them much less helpful.
The survey contains more revealing insights. Please contact us if you would like further information on the survey as specific information can be shared on a case by case basis.
Associated research: Download our research publication: Socialisation Agents’ Use(fulness) for Older Consumers Learning ICT, Aleti, T., Figueiredo, B., Martin, D. M., Reid, M., Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health