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ANZ Bank’s Meghann Augustus reviews the new documentary, Cyber-Seniors, and discovers an enormous social opportunity.

 

In a digital world where things seem to move faster than the speed of light, it’s easy to forget not all of us run at the same pace.

Cyber-Seniors, a documentary that presents a candid, humorous and insightful look at the challenges seniors face when learning to use the Internet, reminded me of this.

Surprisingly to me, the Cyber-Seniors were enthusiastic and impressed by the endless possibilities the Internet opened up to them.

76 year old Annette, Cyber-Senior participant and winner of the Cyber-Seniors YouTube video competition said, “I’m doing all these things I never dreamed about and supposedly I’ve been told I have a good imagination!”

Skype, Facebook and YouTube were particularly popular; Mr Yo, at 90 years of age found the convenience of online banking was just short of a miracle.

The question it left me asking as a professional communicator was ‘how do we engage our seniors and make them feel comfortable and confident interacting in a digital world?’

I’m no expert and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do think slowing the pace of communication and demystifying the technology may help. Starting with today’s language, phrases like ‘Google it’ ‘tweet it’ ‘pin it’ ‘download it’ are considered the social norm but also remove our seniors from the digital conversation.

By no means should we underestimate the learning capacity or appetite of our seniors. We should however break down the language barriers and have more discussions where we encourage and work with our senior generation who have a lot to say. A documentary like Cyber-Seniors shows by doing this we can help seniors bridge the technology gap.

As the world becomes more automated and face-to-face interactions are replaced by ‘self-service’ machines, as news feeds stream faster than you can blink, I think we have an obligation to guide our seniors through the digital age so they don’t feel isolated and left behind.

Although this is easier said than done, there’s much value for our seniors – and organisations like the one I work at – in getting them online. 

It will help them become more independent, empowered, stay connected, engaged, informed, interested – should I go on? I won’t, I know I’m preaching to the converted.

 

Meghann Augustus is a Communications Advisor with ANZ Bank. Meghann attended a screening of Cyber-Seniors as a guest of IABC Victoria, Shabbadu and Telstra.