27 September 2023

Pandemic prompting elders to go online

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More older Australians than ever before are using digital communications following COVID-19 restrictions, according to a report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Chair of ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin said the Authority’s report, Communications and media in Australia: How we communicate, showed the number of people aged 75 and over who used social media doubled from 18 per cent in June 2019, to 41 per cent in June 2020.

“After years of gradual drift towards communications and social media apps, we have now seen a more pronounced shift in the way Australians connect,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“More people are relying on social networking apps and mobile communication services like Facebook Messenger and Zoom to stay connected,” she said.

“The digital divide between younger and older Australians has narrowed, with this trend accelerated by the desire to maintain contact with friends and family during lockdowns.”

Ms O’Loughlin said that for older Australians emailing increased from 37 per cent in 2019 to 81 per cent in 2020 and the use of messaging/calling apps and mobile texting had also increased significantly.

She said 77 per cent of Australians had used an app to make voice calls, video calls or send messages in the six months to June 2020, compared to 67 per cent in 2019.

“More than one in three Australians increased their use of social networking apps following the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

Ms O’Loughlin said other key findings from ACMA’s Report included that the use of nearly all communication services increased in regional locations; the use of messaging/calling apps increased from 48 per cent in 2019 to 73 per cent in 2020; Facebook was the most used social networking app for all age groups; the long-term trend of declining use of fixed-line home phone services continued for all age groups, except those aged 75 and over; and nearly all (99 per cent) adult Australians used a mobile phone in the six months to June 2020.

ACMA’s interactive Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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