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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 Margarete, these perceptions of risk manifest in the following ways:

Example 1
Margarete 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 be too time consuming to be worth the users’ time, leading the user to not engage with it. For example, Margarete uses Zoom for her book club, but does not want to use other video conferencing tools because it would take too much time to download and learn multiple applications.

Example 2
“I fear I won’t be able to find things I need on my device”
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Example 2

Operational risks may manifest as a fear of complexity, which may be daunting especially with devices/tech. For instance, Margarete worries about closing browser tabs and applications because things tend to disappear on her computer even if she tries to save files and bookmark pages she visits often.

Example 3
“I fear my I’ll lock myself out of my device or accounts.”
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Example 3

This risk perception may manifest as a fear of being locked out of accounts and/or devices. For example, Margarete is afraid of logging into MyGov because she cannot remember her password and thinks she will get locked out if she makes another attempt.


Can you relate to those example above?  Go to strategies to learn about how Margarete 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 try to overcome the perceived risk and 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.

Margarete Strategy 1

Individual Strategies for Managing Operational Risk

Strategy Illustration 6


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.


Start simple. Recognise that it will take a bit more time when you are learning something new. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes all you need to do is take a break and come back to the task when you feel refreshed. It is okay to follow your own pace.


Break it down. Do not try to learn it all. Learn one thing at a time so you don’t feel tired and overwhelmed.


Google it. Go online and search a topic on your local search engine. YouTube is also a great place to look at ‘how to’ videos.


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


New skills. Consider the costs and benefits of learning new ICT skills. Start by learning skills that are most beneficial for you. For example, Zoom is a simple tool that gives you the benefits of connecting with your friends and family with little risk.


Be brave and keep trying. Most mistakes can be corrected, and devices will not be broken as you learn. If you are locked out of your devices, for example, you can always take the device to the store to reset. Practise is the best way of learning, and you will gain confidence over time.


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. Write down your ICT problems or take a screen shot to ask others later.


Relevancy. Make sure you focus on tasks that are relevant to you and will benefit you the most with least amount of effort. Your time is limited, so focus on what matters the most.

Relational Strategies for Managing Operational Risk

Strategy Illustration 5


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.


Friends. Seek advice from friends who are supportive and have plenty of time and patience to help you.


Mentors. Cultivate people (family, friends or professional) who have higher level of digital literacy and are willing to help with technology. Tell them the specific tasks you want to learn. Ask them to focus on them and show you step by step. Remember to take notes so that you can use later.


Support Group. Consider forming support groups with other tech savvy seniors – a go to group that might provide you with support and help you share issues, doubts, and comments. Helping others can also help you learn and sharpen your ICT skills.


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.


Libraries. Visit your local and digital libraries, to explore books, tutorials, 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.


Similar devices. Try to have similar devices, software, and services as your partner; so you can help each other. Similarly, when asking for the help of peers, focus on those who have similar devices, software, and services to yours as it makes the task easier.


ICT courses. Join ICT courses developed for older adults. Attend the courses a second time if you need to. Make sure you discuss with the tutors to find the right level for you. You can approach the tutors outside classes or during breaks to have one-on-one discussion.


ICT Jargon. If you encounter ICT jargon while learning, ask your tutors as others in your classes might be experiencing the same issues as you.


Developments. ICT changes very rapidly and updating yourself might take time. Assess how important it is for you to complete this specific task. If it is a routine task, learn, take notes and practise. If it is a one-off, consider asking a knowledgeable friend to help you out.


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.
Anker 1
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You may be interested in
Other potential risks
that Margarete 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.
fear of buying too much online and the costs with upgrading software and devices.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
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