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

Example 1
Timothy 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, Timothy wants to start coding, but is feeling old. The coding language seems overwhelming, and he fears he will not be able to learn. As someone that spent his working career as a tech-repair guy, is afraid of looking incompetent if he cannot pick up any new tech-related skill quickly.

Example 2
“I fear I’m not going to be able to accomplish what I set out to do and I’ll get frustrated.”
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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 what your goals are. For instance, Timothy wants to build a digital tool for seniors to assess and improve their digital literacy. He has discussed this with others at his local Men’s Shed, but he is afraid it could be too difficult or that the tool would not be useful.


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

Individual Strategies for Managing Social Risk

Strategy Illustration 8


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.


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 there are others who 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.


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.


Search engines. Use search engines like Google to research a topic. YouTube is also a terrific resource to watch ‘how to’ videos at your own pace.


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 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.


Learning new things. It is understandable that 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.


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 7


Helping others. Sharing with others what you already know, helps consolidate your knowledge and will help you feel more comfortable with sharing it in social situations. Consider volunteering as an ICT-tutor at your local club or library.


Communities. Join existing communities (e.g., Apple Community) where you can ask questions and get answers to your issues.


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 community groups to help you with the small tasks associated with technology. Be resourceful to asking for help.


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 class.


Teaching others. Consider sharing with others what you already know, no matter how little it might seem, helps consolidate your knowledge and you will feel more comfortable with sharing it in social situations. Consider volunteering as an ICT-tutor at your local club or library.
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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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Timothy Strateg 2
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You may be interested in
Other potential risks
that Timothy 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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