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

Example 1
Rosa 3
“I fear bothering others with my ICT questions and making a fool of myself.”

Example 1

This risk is demonstrated by not wanting to bother others with questions and the fear of making a fool of oneself because they don’t know how to use ICT. For instance, Rosa does not know how to use some of the functions on her new iPad, but she thinks this is a very basic question and she feels embarrassed asking this to the member of her ethnic community for fear of being perceived as ignorant.

Example 2
“I fear I’m not going to be able to accomplish what I set out to do, and I’ll get frustrated.”
Rosa 2

Example 2

Social risks may manifest as a fear of not accomplishing ICT-related goals. This can be frustrating, especially when others are aware of your goals. For instance, Rosa is trying to create a group on WhatsApp to connect with her family spread across three different countries. She has contacted her cousins via WhatsApp, asking them to join the group but forgot to tell them she was Rosa. As a result, they rejected her attempt to include them in a group for not knowing the request was coming from her. This rejection made her frustrated and powerless.


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

Individual Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Rosa Strategy-1


Learning new things. Understandably, you may feel embarrassed in front of others for not knowing something others expect you to know. Find a place where you can investigate the issue in your own time, without the pressure of the group. Or, if someone asks you about something you do not know, ask them to give you some time to research and get back to them later. This will help take the pressure from you.


Growth Mindset. Keep your mind open to constantly learning new things. Consider every challenge as an opportunity to learn more and update yourself.


Ask questions. Remember, others might be as uncomfortable as you are with this task. Seeing your obstacles and listening to your questions might be helpful to them as well.


Be brave. Have a go, even if you are not feeling comfortable with it. Most modern technology is built based on a ‘trial and error’ approach.


Search engines. Use search engines like Google to research a topic. YouTube is also a terrific resource for watching ‘how to’ videos at your own pace. Watch videos in your own language as they might remove the language barrier when learning technology.


Take notes. When learning something new in a social setting – take notes. If you have not understood a specific task, you can ask a friend, family, or mentor who speaks the same language as you do to explain that specific point from your notes, and this will help you catch up and recover before you get too far behind your peers. Practise and take control of your own knowledge. It is also helpful to ensure you don’t forget.


Different paths. There are many ways to do the same thing. You may try different ways until you find the way that suits you best. Sometimes there are simple hacks that solve the issue better than going through complex solutions.


Make it easier. Consider using larger print in your browser or have a program such as NaturalReader or a similar version adapted to reading your primary language to read the text out loud to you.

Relational Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Rosa Strategy-2


Helping others. Sharing with others what you already know helps consolidate your knowledge. It will help you feel more comfortable with sharing it in social situations. There are plenty of people in your ethnic community who may benefit from your help. Consider volunteering as an ICT tutor at your local ethnic community or club.


Communities. Join existing technology-orientated communities (e.g., Apple Community) where you can ask questions and get answers to your issues. You can join these communities in other countries so questions can be asked in other languages.


Seeking help. If your partner is not helpful or patient with you, find social groups, family members, neighbours, friends from a local club or U3A, or local ethnic community groups to help you with the small technology-related tasks. Be resourceful in asking for help.


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. If language might be a problem for you, attend these courses with a friend or child who can help you with translating. Or attend these courses a second time if you need to build your confidence or want to consolidate your learning.


Learning buddies. Identify someone who is at your level and shares the same language. Practise ICT with them and help one another. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in your ICT class.
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 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.

Rosa Strategy 2

You may be interested in
Other potential risks
that Rosa 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.
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