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

Example 1
“I fear I won’t be able to find things I need on my device.”

Example 1

Operational risks may manifest as being afraid and intimidated by the complexity of ICT devices/tech. For instance, Rosa has a medical app on her phone which helps her track her appointments and daily steps. However, she says the app disappears from her screen sometimes, and she fears she will not be able to reach valuable information if she goes to the doctor.

Example 2
Roas 1
“I fear I’ll lock myself out of my device or accounts.”

Example 2

This fear manifests as a fear of being locked out of accounts and/or devices. For example, Rosa has tried her password a few times, but this is her last opportunity to try it without blocking her account.

“I fear I won’t be able to keep up with new devices and applications.”

Example 3

Operational risks may manifest as a fear of complexity, which may be daunting, especially with devices/tech. For instance, Rosa likes to use her technology skills to create posters for members of her ethnic community. However, her favourite app keeps changing versions and making it difficult for her to keep up with it.

Rosa 3
Exaple 3

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

Individual Strategies for Managing Operational Risk

Rosa Strategy-1


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.


Use VPN. Use VPN services to access websites and search engines from the perspective of your country of birth. This will provide access to information and entertainment directly delivered in your preferred language.


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.


Backups. Make sure you have backups of important data.


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


Different paths. There are many ways to do the same thing. You may need to try different paths until you find your preferred method.


Mixed passwords. Try passwords that mix both English and your primary language. They will be harder for others to guess.


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

Relational Strategies for Managing Operational Risk

Rosa Strategy-2


Family assistance. Find family members, friends or neighbours who not only speak your language but are also 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.


Decide what is shareable and what is not. Make an internal decision about what is private to you and what is possible to share with close friends and family members. Some password-protected items can be shared with others (e.g. your telephone provider login account), and sharing will help you re-access these services if you need to. You can also write down these passwords. Others (e.g., bank accounts) need to stay private or shared with a partner only. You will only need to focus on remembering the ones you are not sharing.


Libraries. Visit your local and digital libraries to explore books, tutorials, manuals, or classes that can help you. Many libraries have programs in other languages. If they do not, put in a request for one. You may be surprised at how many people who are in a similar situation as you are and might benefit from having resources in their own language.


Mentors. Cultivate people (family, friends, or professionals) from your ethnic community who have a 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 them later.


Health issues. Find a support group who speaks your language and may have tips and tools to help you overcome any health issues (weaker eyesight, hearing, shaky hands), and discuss with the tutors at your ICT groups and more knowledgeable peers.


Help your partner. If your partner knows less than you, share your new knowledge with them, which helps you remember it.


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. Consider becoming a volunteer teacher on subjects you want to learn more about or keep updated.


Community. Use the power of community with other tech-savvy seniors in your ethnic community and form a support group to help one another. Try seeking out community members who are well connected within and without your group. There are always some very active people both within their ethnic community and in the broader society. They may be of great help to ‘translate’ your problems and seek help outside of your community.


Service Providers. Become loyal to service providers that help support your technological and language 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 the chat function on the websites.
Anker 1

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.

Rosa Risk 1

You may be interested in
Other potential risks
that Rosa 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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