Older generation at greater risk online: Report

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on September 13, 2021

Fear of being a ‘digital burden’ prevalent in this age group

Even as nine out of ten people believed that the internet is important to their life, levels of confidence online decreased with age, according to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Avast.

The decreasing level of online confidence and the fear of being a ‘digital burden’ has put the older generation at greater risk online.

The research forms part of a comprehensive global study with YouGov and Forsa into global digital citizenship trends.

Outside of work-related tasks, the research found that those aged between 25-44 years old spend the most time online, with 49 per cent spending more than three hours a day on the internet in comparison to 36 per cent of 55-64 year olds and 23 per cent of those aged over 65.

In India, 85 per cent of people rated themselves as confident online, however, this confidence decreased with each age group and dropped to 66 per cent of those aged over 65.

According to the research, people struggled with relatively simple tasks the most. However, 49 per cent of respondents did not know the tasks they find difficult online.

Those aged 45-54 struggled the most, facing challenges with settings, remembering and recovering passwords (100 per cent), writing and sending emails (100 per cent), and backing up the files (100 per cent).

“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,” added Baloo.

The majority of those who do not feel confident online say that this bothers them (58 per cent). Three out of four (75 per cent) admitted to feeling like a burden if they have to ask others for help.

“However, these concerns could be misplaced. The most common feelings expressed by those who helped people online were positive sentiments of feeling helpful, appreciated, and proud,” the report said.

Help from younger generation

46 per cent of those aged over 55 and 56 per cent of those over 65 years admitted that they would like online help from younger family members

The study found that it is indeed the younger generation most called upon to offer this support. 54 per cent of people who have helped others with the internet, helped their parents, compared to just 11 per cent who have had to help their grandchildren. People have helped their friends the most (65 per cent).

This inter-generational help correlates with concerns from people about their older relatives, with 47 per cent of people expressing worry about their parents online, rising to 61 per cent who expressed concern for their grandparents.

While people are concerned about their own online safety (60 per cent are very concerned and 22 per cent are slightly concerned), this level rises when thinking about their parents or grandparents. 85 per cent registered levels of concern about the safety of their parents, which grew to 88 per cent since the start of the pandemic, with 86 per cent concerned for their grandparents before and since the pandemic.

Online concerns

Looking specifically at online concerns, fake news topped the list as the number one worry for all age groups (21 per cent), followed by data being collected by third parties (18 per cent) and virus infection (18 per cent). These concerns differred when people were asked about the risks facing their older relatives. For instance, 25 per cent of people are worried their grandparents could fall victim to a fake website, with 20 per cent 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,” the report further said . 58 per cent of people have decided not to do something online due to security and privacy concerns. This level was higher among women (62 per cent vs. 55 per cent of men), and highest among people aged 18-24 (66 per cent). These fears prevented people from doing things such as using public Wi-Fi or setting up certain online accounts. 36 per cent saidthey are not using public Wi-Fi while 34 per cent did not set up online accounts with personal details.

31 per cent decided against downloading certain files or content, 30 per cent said that they are not sharing things on social media while 29 per cent avoid online payment services.

Overall 17 per cent 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 per cent of 55-64-year-olds, 23 per cent of 45-54-year-olds and 31 per cent of those aged over 65.

Looking at the measures people take to protect themselves online, 75 per cent have AV software, 58 per cent use a Firewall and 54 per cent use a VPN. Of those who don’t have AV software, 18 per cent admit to not knowing what it is and 29 per cent don’t know how to install it.

Published on September 13, 2021

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