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Related Research

Our interest in socialisation agents sprung from the results of a survey we at RMIT conducted for The Life Activities Clubs Victoria (LACVI) in 2019. Most of the findings from this report aim at helping LACVI better understand its essential core – its members, their demographic information, involvement with LACs, life satisfaction, wellbeing and travelling patterns. However, we were able to ask additional questions to 750 participants regarding their use of technology and the role of those who support them learn about or deal with technology (agents of socialisation).

 

The findings from this survey were quite revealing. They triggered us to ask further questions to older Australians 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 their members to further explore emerging themes. For example, we asked seniors questions about the role of grandchildren and peer within semi-educational learning settings, like computer clubs and senior networks.

 

We report some of the technology usage and socialisation findings from the LACVI survey below:

  • The majority surveyed members own smartphones (69.9%), iPad/Tablet (53.1%), laptops (50.5%). Desktop computers were also popular (41.7%). Only a tiny group (3%) of surveyed members reported not owning any digital device.

  • The technology devices owned by seniors are often hand-me-downs from other younger family members. As such, many seniors may own devices without feeling confident in using it.

  • Surveyed participants were most comfortable with computers and least comfortable with tablets. This is 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 that is mainly based on single-purpose apps.

  • When seeking help regarding technology-related problems, children were the most popular source of support with technology devices. 39.1% had children as the first option, and 16.9% indicated they were their second option. Professionals were the second most favoured option. Further, grandchildren were not as prominent as a first option, but 14.1% indicated that they would be their second option. Regarding other sources, the majority of responses suggested another family member or 'self-socialisation' through the internet (Google, YouTube).

  • It was clear that adult children were the primary socialisation agent for technology products. However, those receiving advice from younger friends or other sources not included found this equally valuable.

  • On the other hand, siblings or friends of the same age seem to be a poorer source for advice about technology; participants relying on these sources found them much less useful.

 

More information:

The full survey was delivered to LACVI and presented to the Victorian Government – Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The survey contains more revealing insights. If you are interested in them, we can share specific information on a case-by-case basis. Please contact torgeir.aleti@rmit.edu.au or bernardo.figueiredo@rmit.edu.au

If you are interested in collaborating with us, and/or would like to learn more about how to
be part of this project, we would like to hear from you! Contact us here.