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

Example 1
Margarete 2
“I fear feeling incompetent and overwhelmed.”

Example 1

Social risks may be expressed as a fear of negative emotions associated with ICT and the ramifications with their friends. For example, Margarete accidentally started a subscription to Amazon Prime. She tried to cancel it but felt overwhelmed. She is scared to ask for help because it would make her look incompetent. She keeps paying for the service without knowing what she gets from it.

Example 2
“I fear bothering others with my ICT questions and making a fool of myself.”
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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, Margarete is not a tech-enthusiast and often rely on her husband for assistance. He tends to do things for her, as opposed to teaching her how to do it for herself. She doesn’t like to ask him to teach her because he gets frustrated if she doesn’t ‘get it’ immediately.


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

Individual Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Strategy Illustration 6


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.


Trust yourself. Try to be confident. Remember all achievements that you have had in your life in various areas. Learning is just another challenge for you. 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.


New skills. Consider the costs and benefits of learning new ICT skills. Start by learning skills that are most beneficial for you. If you feel uncomfortable with social media – explore it when you are interested and comfortable.


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 5


Seeking help. Ask your partner, 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.


Practise. When using a new technology for the first time, consider asking your partner 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, with a partner, 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.


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.


Support Groups. Consider forming your own support group with other tech savvy seniors that can act as your trusted circle and provide each other with ICT support and help. Your trusted ICT circle can be made up from neighbours, friends, RSL club members or from other local community groups – anyone who is interested in supporting others to increase digital literacy.


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 class.


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. Try involving your partner in some of these activities.


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.
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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 things people can do themselves but also the importance of relational influences impact 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 Margarete 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.
Margarete Strategy 2
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