Successful cyber seniors

Article image - Successful cyber seniors Discovering the world of cyber space, library staff and participating seniors have fun with selfies. Simon Murphy, Graham Brown, Gerard Pol, Chris Pol, Mark Seagrim, Patricia Pope.

Alexandrina Libraries are well versed in catering for the community in fields that go beyond the typical book and magazine loans.

In 2018, the team took on a new challenge; catering for older South Australians by offering a series of programs to help them to become more digitally literate. 

It’s a service of great relevance to the Alexandrina region, where the 2016 Census showed that 77 percent of homes were connected to the internet, 7 percent above the regional state average. 

Combined with an older population base, the demand for such services was evident. 

In March last year, Alexandrina Libraries launched the free Australian Government initiative, Be Connected, a one-on-one program aimed at those aged in the 50-plus age bracket. 

It offers participants the opportunity to work through an online program with library staff and covers a broad range of relevant topics relating to online applications and technology.

Then from June to October, the Tech Savvy Seniors program (supported by Telstra, Libraries of SA and the State Government) offered residents aged 60 and over free technology training sessions to launch them into the online world. Council attained a generous grant to launch the series of four programs which delivered 80 sessions to almost 400 participants. 

Topics in Tech Savvy Seniors included being familiar with cyber safety, using mobile devices and learning how to navigate Windows 10 and Gmail accounts, among others. 

Alexandrina Libraries staff embraced the concept, adapting and evolving each program based on participant feedback.

Such has been the success of Alexandrina Council’s offering of these programs that other organisations, such as Council on the Aging (COTA SA), are looking to host similar sessions through Alexandrina Libraries, in particular, the My Aged Care online support and assistance program. 

The demand for, and participant enthusiasm generated by, these programs has highlighted that local government can help fill a gap in providing support for older residents to navigate a sometimes daunting digital world. 

These programs create a massive sense of social inclusion, connect participants with loved ones across the world and open them up to huge range of online services and resources.