MANY older Australians won’t be shopping online this Christmas or chatting to loved ones on Skype or Facebook because they can’t afford to be online.
The latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index shows that seniors are again among the most digitally disadvantaged with the key issue facing those over 65 being affordability.
The 2018 Index shows a marked decline in digital access, affordability and ability in people aged over 65 compared to those aged 50 to 64. The overall digital inclusion score for those aged 50 to 64 is 58.9 for men and 57.4 for women, but this drops for the over 65s to 48.4 and 43.8.
Affordability scores dropped from 58.6 and 56.6 for men and women aged 50-64 to 49.3 and 46.1 for those over 65.
For those Australians over 80 the overall index score is just 38.9 for men and 33.2 for women.
All scores for the over 65s are substantially lower than younger age ranges. The overall Index score for men and women aged 35-49 is 66.2 and 64.6.
The 2018 ADII report describes being digitally connected as a necessity, rather than a luxury.
“As more of our daily interactions and activities move online, digital technologies bring a growing range of important benefits – from the convenience of online banking, to accessing vital services, finding information, and staying in touch with friends and family.
“However, these benefits cannot be shared equally as some groups and individuals still face real barriers to participation,” says the report.
“In recent years the digital divide has narrowed, but it has also deepened. The latest ABS data shows that over two and a half million Australians are not online
“These Australians are at risk of missing out on the advantages and assistance that digital technology can offer.
“As the internet has become the default medium for everyday exchanges, information-sharing, and access to essential services, the disadvantages of being offline grow greater.”
However,the report added: “The key issue faced by those 65+ – as with other groups reporting relatively low incomes – is the rising proportion of income spent on network access. As a result, affordability has been in decline for each of the age cohorts aged 65+.”