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Older Australians making the most of social media and apps

October 19, 2017 Australia's elderly using apps and phones to socially interact

A recent report undertaken at Griffith University has found that the number of older Australians using social media and apps to stay connected with family and friends is “surging”. It appears that older Australians are catching up with their younger, tech-savvy peers.

As technology has become user-friendly so that almost “anyone can use it”, older Australians aged 75 and over are showing the biggest increase in social media and app use.

According to the report, younger people are feeling trapped by their devices but older Australians are feeling the opposite – that social interactions have improved as a result of smart phones.

“We are seeing something like a quadrupling of people using [social media and apps] in recent years. Nowadays there’s something like 75 per cent of people in that demographic using technology almost every day,” Griffith University Socio-technology Expert Dr. David Tuffley said to ABC News on October 13, 2017.

So, what are people over 60 using their devices for?

“Young Australians feel trapped by Facebook and Instagram. Those two apps are a bottomless pit of engagement and (young) people get a bit addicted to it. The older generation hasn’t fallen into that usage pattern. What they use (their devices for) is Facetime or Skype to communicate with friends and family. It’s great for keeping in contact with family in the same area, friends and family anywhere in the world. It’s also brilliant for people who maybe feel a bit socially isolated in retirement communities,” said Dr. David Tuffley.

Overcoming social isolation, educating themselves on health matters, using government services, doing online banking and buying things off eBay are among the tasks that older Australians are achieving online.

Dr. David Tuffley continued: “Basically they’re doing everything that young people are doing, perhaps not to quite the same extent, but I don’t think it’ll be too long until they’re using it at the same rate.”

The top apps being used include: Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Whatsapp.

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