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Perceived Operational Risk

Perceived Operational risks are the most common type of risks and relate to the fear of failing to use technology. The senior population is growing, and lack of engagement with new technology is an issue impacting social connection. Older people are concerned and fearful as to whether they will be able to use their computer, tablet, or mobile phone due to their own personal ICT abilities. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and get frustrated when they cannot get their devices to work. They don’t trust themselves to overcome an ICT challenge presented to them. This fear is focused on whether the digital device will really do what they want it to do and includes being in control of the functional aspects of different products.

For Dawn, these perceptions of risk manifest in the following ways:

Example 1
Dawn 1
“I fear wasting my time using my ICT device(s).”

Example 1

This risk may be manifested as a feeling that learning a task might too time consuming to be worth the users’ time, leading the user not to engage with it. For example, Dawn use FaceTime, but does not want to learn Zoom or other video conferencing tools as she thinks she will take too long to learn it.

Example 2
“I fear I won’t be able to find things I need or operate my device.”
Dawn 2

Example 2

Operational risks may manifest as a fear of not being able to operate a device. For instance, Dawn fears not being able to connect and use her devices for essential services when travelling overseas.

Example 3
“I fear I won’t be able to keep up with new devices, and my content (files, photos, programs, etc.) won’t work across my different devices”
Dawn 6

Example 3

Operational risks may manifest as a fear of complexity, which may be daunting especially with devices/tech. For instance, Dawn is running out of storage space on her phone but fears using cloud storage as she not sure if she will still be able to access her data across her devices.


Can you relate to those example above?  Go to strategies to learn about how Dawn can address these issues.


Strategies to Managing Perceived Operational Risk

Operational risk is aligned both with the person’s ICT ability and the person’s confidence to overcome the perceived risk and try to engage with the digital device. There are individual things people can do themselves to manage the risk, as well as relational strategies which consider the role of social influences on a person’s ability to try new things and interact with ICT.

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Individual Strategies for Managing Operational Risk

Strategy Illustration 1


Take a deep breath. Sometimes all you need to do is take a break and come back to the problem when you feel refreshed and calm rather than continue when you feel frustrated and tired.


Search engines. Use search engines like Google or video apps like YouTube. Google ICT jargon or explore YouTube videos will help you learn how to do things - pause, rewind and watch as many times as you need.


Different paths. Remember, there are many ways to do the same thing. You may need to try different paths until you find your preferred way.


Areas of interest. Make a list of the topics you would like to know and skills you would like to acquire. Then ask a more knowledgeable friend to help you group these and work out a plan.


Updates and developments. Remember, ICT changes all the time, so you need to keep updating your apps and devices as well as your knowledge of them. Keep your system and apps up to date to ensure they work properly.


Take notes. Write down your ICT problems, solutions and resources so you can refer to them at a later time.


Second devices. Consider using a second/different device if you are experiencing problems. Look for solutions on the second device.


Libraries. Visit your local and digital libraries, to explore books, tutorial, manuals or classes that can help you.


Official websites. Try the official website of service providers. Apple and Microsoft have many tutorials and other learning material on their websites. If you want to learn about Linux, there’s a full course on that is partially narrated by the creator of Linux himself.


Backups. Make sure you have back-ups of important data.


Relational Strategies for Managing Operational Risk



Family assistance. Find family members, friends or neighbours who are comfortable with being your go to person for more complex technological issues. For example, if your grandchildren have more time than your children, then ask your grandchildren.


Social networks. Join existing informal and formal social networks (e.g., Apple Community) where you can ask questions and get answers to your issues. Consider forms of passing forward the knowledge and skills you learn in these groups.


ICT Courses. Join intermediate and advanced ICT courses developed for older adults. Make sure you discuss with tutors to find the right courses for you. Discuss with tutors if you can meet outside classes or during breaks to have one-on-one discussions.


Teach others. They say that to teach is to learn a thousand times. The best way to learn and keep new knowledge is to teach others. Considering becoming a volunteer teacher on subjects you want to learn more or keep updated.


Community. Use the power of community with other tech savvy seniors and form a support group to help one another.


Libraries. Visit your local and digital libraries, to explore books, tutorial, manuals or classes that can help you with these specific tasks. Check sites like Be Connected, for specific information on how to engage with ICT tasks.


Service Providers. Become loyal to service providers that are helpful in supporting your needs. Good technology providers and retailers should be able to offer targeted solutions and support to your issues. Engage with stores and services that provide your preferred communication channel, be it in-store, phone, or through chat function on the websites.


Health issues. Your support team may have tips and tools to help you overcome any health issues (weaker eyesight, hearing, shaky hands), discuss with the tutors at your ICT groups and more knowledgeable peers.
Strategies Dawn Risk 1
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Other potential risks that Dawn is facing:

concerns about feeling incompetent, getting frustrated and being overwhelmed with digital technology.
fears focused with online payments, losing privacy, identity theft and automatic payments.
worries about online transactions, not receiving the purchased goods and processing errors.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
fear of buying too much online and the costs with upgrading software and devices.
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