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Perceived Social Risk

Social risks are present when people are concerned about losing social status from owning and using, or not owning and using, ICT. They are focussed on the personal and social implications. Social risks include perceptions around being ridiculed, embarrassed, feeling vulnerable or anxious. Social risk is often caused by having a lack of digital confidence and trust. There is often an unwillingness to engage with ICT due to feelings of inadequacy and discomfort.

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

Example 1
Joshua 1
“I fear I will get frustrated engaging with others through ICT, and this could increase my stress and anxiety.”

Example 1

This risk perception may manifest as a fear of not understanding how to do something on your device and getting frustrated and stressed what your friends will think. This can also lead to increased ICT anxiety. For instance, Joshua’s had cataract surgery and frustrated he can’t see very well. He’s feeling stressed and anxious that he won’t be able to keep up in his beginners’ ICT class and make a fool of himself, so he stays at home by himself.

Example 2
“I fear bothering others with my ICT questions and making a fool of myself.”
Joshua 2_edited

Example 2

Social risks may manifest as a fear of bothering others with questions and making a fool of oneself because they don’t know how to use ICT. For instance, Joshua is single and does not have as good a grasp of ICT as his peers. He also lacks people around to help. His friends are not as tech savvy, and he is not close to his children and grandchildren.


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

Individual Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Strategy Illustration 3


Be brave. Trust yourself and try to be confident. Remember all the achievements you have had in your life. Learning an ICT task might be hard, but it is just another challenge - it will get easier with time.


Pace yourself. Take a deep breath and start simple. Do one thing at a time. Be kind to yourself. Remember you are not the only person who doesn’t know ICT. Each learner has their own pace, and it is okay to take longer to engage with a task you do not know.


Capture your learnings. When learning something new - take notes either in a physical book or in a word document so you can refer to them later and practise. This is very helpful to ensure you don’t forget or feel anxious about it.


Practise. The more you practise using ICT, the more confident you will be.



Make it easier. Consider using larger print in your browser or have the program such as NaturalReader read the text out loud to you.

Relational Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Strategy Illustration 4


Sufficient time to help. Make sure your family members/friends are supportive and have plenty of time and patience to help you. It might be confusing if they do not have sufficient time to go step by step with you.


Seeking help. Ask your children or other family members to help you by demonstrating a specific task step by step. Try to execute the task as they teach you. Remember to take notes while they are helping so that you could do it again later on your own. Explain to them that they need to be patient and provide positive feedback.


Consider seeking help from other social groups such as neighbours, friends from a local club or U3A or local community groups to help you with the small tasks associated with technology.


Practise. When using a new technology for the first time, consider asking a friend to practise with you. For example, you can practise using Zoom or online banking with them as well as with family members. Practising at home makes it fun, it reduces the fear of doing it by yourself, and it builds your confidence. Remember to take notes so that you can keep practising on your own.


Social media. If you want to begin exploring social media – choose a small group of friends and let them know you are learning. If you are not sure what you can post on social media, discuss with your experienced friends/family members who use it.


Health issues. If you have developed any physical or mental health issues (weaker eyesight, hearing, or shaky hands, early stages of dementia) that prevent you from keeping up with the pace in a social setting, let your family members/friends who are helping you or tutors at your ICT class know that you need to work at a different pace. This will help them assist to your special needs. They might be able to offer tools and solutions to help you.


Learning events. Make learning a social experience - join ICT courses developed for older adults. Make sure you discuss with the tutors to find the right courses for you. Attend these courses a second time if you need to build your confidence or want to consolidate learnings.


Learning buddies. Identify someone who is at your level and practise ICT with them and help one another. Don’t be afraid of asking for help in your ICT


Support Groups. Consider forming support groups with other tech savvy seniors that can act as your trusted circle and provide you with support and help as you share ICT issues and experiences.


Ask someone to help you increase the font size in your browser or download an app such as NaturalReader that reads the text out loud to you.
Anker 1

Strategies to Managing Perceived Social Risk

Social risks are 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 strategies people can do themselves to manage this risk, as well as relational strategies which consider the role of social influence on a person’s ability to try new things and interact with ICT.

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You may be interested in
Other potential risks that Joshua is facing:

will this digital device work the way I want it to – it includes forgetting instructions and managing passwords.
fears focused with online payments, losing privacy, identity theft and automatic payments.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
worries about online transactions, not receiving the purchased goods and processing errors.
fear of buying too much online and the costs with upgrading software and devices.
Joshua Strategies 2
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