Fears of Being a Digital Burden Put Older Generation at Greater Risk Online
Published on : Thursday 09-09-2021
Avast research uncovers attitudes to the internet as part of a global digital citizenship study, with differences depending on age, gender and geography.
Avast, a global leader in digital security and privacy has found that while nine out of ten people say the internet is important to their life, levels of confidence online decreased with age. This lack of confidence leads to less time spent online, causing missed opportunities for digital citizens. This research forms part of a comprehensive global study with YouGov and Forsa into global digital citizenship trends.
Online confidence decreasing with age
Outside of work-related tasks, the research found that those aged between 25-44 years old spend the most time online, with 49% spending more than three hours a day on the internet; in direct comparison to just 36% of 55-64 year olds and 23% of those aged over 65. The findings point towards a direct correlation between this time spent online and online confidence. In India, 85% of people rate themselves as confident online – however, this confidence decreases with each age group and drops to just 66% of those aged over 65.
The research found it's the relatively simple tasks that people are struggling with the most. However, 49% of respondents did not know the tasks they find difficult online (sample size not statistically significant). Those aged 45-54 struggled the most facing challenges with settings, remembering and recovering passwords (100%), writing and sending emails (100%), and backing up the files (100%).
"It is positive to see such high levels of online confidence reported," said Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at Avast. "However, we cannot ignore the differences we see in this confidence dependent on demographics, and we need to keep older generations in mind when it comes to digital education. We as an industry need to be enablers for weaker digital citizens, and sharing online knowledge needs to be part of family conversations. The younger generations specifically have been playing an essential role in helping their parents and grandparents navigate the online world, which we see confirmed by our survey."
The majority of those who do not feel confident online say that this bothers them (58%). Three out of four (75%) admitted to feeling like a burden if they have to ask others for help. However, these concerns could well be misplaced. The most common feelings expressed by those who helped people online were positive sentiments of feeling helpful, appreciated, and proud.
Inter-generational help on the rise
Nearly half of the older generation (46% of 55+ and 56% of 65+) admit that they would like online help from younger family members, and the study found that it is indeed the younger generation most called upon to offer this support. 54% of people who have helped others with the internet, helped their parents, compared to just 11% who have had to help their grandchildren. People have helped their friends the most (65%).
This inter-generational help correlates with concerns from people about their older relatives, with 47% of people expressing worry about their parents online, rising to 61% who expressed concern for their grandparents.
It is clear that while people are concerned about their own online safety (60% are very concerned and 22% are slightly concerned), this level rises when thinking about their parents or grandparents. 85% registered levels of concern about the safety of their parents, which grew to 88% since the start of the pandemic, with 86% concerned for their grandparents before and since the pandemic.
Online concerns holding people back online
Looking specifically at online concerns, fake news comes out on top as the number one worry for all age groups (21%). This is closely followed by data being collected by third parties (18%) and virus infection (18%). Interestingly, these concerns differ when people are asked about the risks facing their older relatives. For example, 25% of people are worried their grandparents could fall victim to a fake website, with 20% worried that they could be fooled by a fake news.
These online concerns are holding many people back from doing things online – such as online banking or engaging on social media. 58% of people have decided not to do something online due to security and privacy concerns – this level is higher among women (62% vs. 55% of men), and highest among people aged 18-24 (66%). The top things that these fears prevented people from doing are as follows:
36% are not using public Wi-Fi
34% did not set up online accounts with personal details
31% decided against downloading certain files or content
30% are not sharing things on social media, and
29% avoid online payment services.
Overall 17% of people felt that they don't have good enough knowledge about how to protect themselves online. This percentage is highest among people above 45 years; 22% of 55-64-year-olds, 23% of 45-54-year-olds and 31% of 65+.
Looking at the measures people take to protect themselves online, 75% have AV software, 58% use a Firewall and 54% use a VPN. Of those who don't have AV software, 18% admit to not knowing what it is and 29% don't know how to install it.
Avast has done a survey among 16,147 online users in 17 countries around the world. Avast commissioned the survey to the research institution YouGov in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom and United States, and to the research institution Forsa in Austria, Germany and Switzerland (German-speaking population only). The survey was run as a representative survey among over 1,000 people in each region, apart from Austria and Switzerland, where Forsa surveyed over 500 people each. The global data points in this report are covering results of all regions, apart from data points that show results by age groups or gender, where results from German speaking markets are excluded.