Figures from a survey of 2,700 people globally by Avast reveal that there is a digital divide between generations. Currently, older adults are reluctant to use the internet, mainly due to the lack of support from other people.
The situation worsened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, at which time older adults lagged behind in the use of technology. Of the total surveyed (which considers people aged 55 or over), 42% use the Internet regularly, 31% use it occasionally and 27% never use it.
One factor in understanding the data was that half of the respondents are retired; In addition, abandonment of the Internet increases with age. Only 17% of people between 55 and 60 years old do not use the network, but the rate rises to 39% among people 75 years and older.
Regarding the reasons why the respondents do not use the Internet, 59% responded that they simply do not need it. 42% considered it too complicated and 37% avoid using the internet due to digital threats. In addition, 36% feel too old for it, 28% reported that it is too expensive and 15% completely reject this type of technology.
Jaya Baloo, CISO at Avast, explained that the age of 60 is where the challenges of adapting to technology, specifically the internet, really begin. “The problems start from choosing a device and the right software, then configuring it correctly, and that translates into insurmountable obstacles for many people, not to mention ongoing maintenance,” she added.
Despite this, Baloo stressed that if there were greater participation of the new generations to help older adults to use the Internet, the figures of use could increase. Her opinion was backed up by the survey data, with 41% of those surveyed saying they would appreciate help from friends or family with online activities.
Also, the fact of feeling safe while surfing the Internet is another key factor to encourage older adults to use it. For example, 27% of respondents feel worried while online. And similarly, 44% fear cybercrime, identity theft, data breaches, password theft, and malware.
“Our survey revealed that people feel insecure and uncomfortable using the internet, coupled with feeling like a burden to others when asking for help,” Baloo said. In addition, the expert added that to participate in the digital world, older adults can seek external help in education centers.
Currently, the use of the internet is key for various activities, both economic, social and entertainment. For this reason, providing older adults with an opportunity to join the use of new technologies would prevent their digital backwardness.