While gadgets like mobile phones and the internet may help us communicate faster, there are still some who have no idea how to use it to its full potential. Telstra has come up with a way to help older Australians to get familiar with mobile phones and the internet by launching a $3 million grant program to improve their communication and social interaction.
The Telstra Connected Seniors will provide $1 million each year for the next three years to community organisations such as bowls clubs and gardening groups to run programs that equip their members with new skills such as connecting with other seniors online, making video calls or sending text messages.
Clubs and community groups with a membership base comprised primarily of seniors can apply for grants for money, equipment and educational materials. Successful applicants then use their funding to develop practical, fun and innovative educational activities. In practical terms this could be as simple as how to use a text message to arrange a bridge game or use email to receive family photos.
Telstra Group Managing Director, Mr. David Moffatt, said that the quality of life for seniors was strongly influenced by social connectivity and that technology could play a vital part in meeting new people, discovering new interests and developing new hobbies, which contribute to healthy lifestyles.
“Telstra Connected Seniors has been created to help older Australians learn about new technology so they can confidently use it to keep in contact with family, friends and loved ones. Modern telecommunications can also help older Australians maintain their social relationships, yet many seniors are simply unaware of the new technology or daunted by the prospect of using it. Telstra Connected Seniors provides a practical solution to this need,” Mr. Moffatt added.
The research found:
- Two thirds or 66 percent of people aged over 60 own a mobile phone but they only use their mobiles occasionally compared to younger age groups and few have sent an SMS or picture message
- 35 percent of people over 60 want to use technologies to communicate with their friends and families but claim that they feel uneasy about how to use new technology
- 720,000 people over 60 years have home computers and 60 percent of them regularly use the internet. The most popular things they do online are sending email, browsing news sites and researching hobby interests such as genealogy or gardening
- Less than one percent of people over 60 years currently blog on sites such as MySpace, Facebook or BigPond BigBlog, compared to 10 per cent of under 20 year olds
Successful applicants will run their own educational activities, using materials and resources provided by Telstra through an online education website. This process enables seniors to learn from trusted peers in a familiar and supportive environment.