UCLL: Seniors Share Reasons For Not Using Digital Communication

Seniors share reasons for not using digital communication and preferences for learning how to use it

As we learned in the previous article, ‘Study shows that most elderly people in Cyprus,Greece, Belgium and Italy have embraced digital communication and a large majority uses thesmartphone daily’, the BETA survey asked almost 300 seniors about their digital skills and interests. While the majority used digital devices with internet connection, there were also some elderly, 99 in total, that did not. We also asked these seniors about their reasons.

Reasons To Avoid Internet-based Communication

Half of the respondents complained about having little help to switch to digital communication. Additionally, almost half of respondents (46.5%) admitted not wanting to buy a digital device, a third of the respondents also mentioned the high cost of these devices as an obstacle. Moreover, almost a third of the respondents stated not wanting to get internet installed. Another barrier found in our survey was the senior’s concern about having to learn a lot: about two-third of the participants worried about this. It was interesting to find that only a quarter of the respondents (who were not digital users) found digital communication a risk. Our survey also asked for the reasons of using non-digital communication and more than two thirds mentioned that non-digital communication (landline, mobile phone) was easy and enough for addressing their communication needs.

Learning About Digital Communication

All those survey participants that said they used devices with internet connection or a landline phone or mobile phone, 271 in total, were asked  whether they would like to learn over digital communication. For this, only 41% of the seniors showed interest, who mainly lived in Italy. Our survey also asked participants for their preferences for learning. Figure 1 shows that the most preferable way of learning would be ‘in pairs, with people from my age group’ (particularly amongst Italian participants), followed by ‘individually, on my own’ (particularly amongst Belgian participants) and ‘active learning in a group’. This preference was mainly selected by Belgian and Italian respondents. Private teachers and traditional (passive) learning in a group were the least selected.

Figure 1. Preferences for learning digital communication

This information was found insightful by the BETA partnership to continue developing the project, addressing seniors’ needs and preferences, and contributing to make digital communication more inclusive for seniors.

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