Australian Seniors at Risk: Rapidly advancing communications technology
While we might feel like digital communication has been a part of our world forever, and we might wonder what we would do without it. The reality is that communication technology is new, confusing, and scary for many Australians. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics in 2005 less than 60% of Australian households had internet access. Over the next 15 years, the drive for better productivity has led to the complete integration of digital communication into every aspect of our lives.
Health, Banking, Socialising, Licensing, Community and Government services, all services now managed and delivered through digital communication. For many, it is a wonderful, exciting, new world of potential and possibilities. For others, for our older Australians who are not comfortable and confident with this technology, it is frustrating and terrifying.
Our seniors who are not comfortable and aware of the internet and digital communications security are at increased risk. They are forced to use technology to access essential services, with few, if any social supports to learn the skills needed. This puts them at risk making them vulnerable to Elder abuse, phishing scams and “Early inheritance syndrome”.
They trust the person who calls them and says they are calling on behalf of the ATO or the NBN, the person who walks them through installing the program on their computer that accesses their bank accounts and steals their life savings.
One woman told me “The NBN workers have been installing in the area just the other day, and the person on the phone was getting so frustrated with me because I didn’t understand, and had trouble following his instruction to install the NBN program on my computer. I felt so stupid, I didn’t want to make their job any harder by asking more questions”. This scammer cleaned out all 3 of her bank accounts in under an hour.
They trust the child who they love, who helps them with their banking because they are not sure how to use the computer. The same child that has a gambling or drug addiction, or just believes that the money will come to them eventually so what harm if they take a little now.
The internet and digital communication have the power to add so much value to our lives, our businesses, and our society. But we cannot leave anyone behind, we need to ensure that our Seniors are supported to be knowledgeable, proficient, and secure.
How? I don’t have that answer, but I am open to ideas.