Older people need digital skills training to learn to use digital technology more independently, but they also seek digital training opportunities because of the social benefits they offer, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. Published in International Journal of Lifelong Education, the study examined perceived benefits of digital skills training among older adult learners, their teachers and peer tutors. Data for the study were collected in liberal adult education organisations, such as community colleges, as well as in peer tutoring sessions organised by third sector actors.
New skills and friendships
The coronavirus pandemic has, for its part, highlighted inequalities in the availability and use of digital technology. People in different life situations have different opportunities to practise and develop their digital skills, which are rather essential in today’s world.
Older people participating in the survey study wanted to attend digital skills training primarily in order to learn digital skills. Digital skills enabled them to solve technical problems and to use digital technology more independently.
“The perceived benefits of digital skills were often related to the ease of everyday life, such as being able to use electronic services, leisure time, or staying in touch with friends and family,” Postdoctoral Researcher Kaisa Pihlainen from the University of Eastern Finland says.
However, digital skills training sessions are also beneficial in terms of social relations. According to the study, the training sessions were a good opportunity to meet other people and to establish friendships. That, in turn, was a source of more inner motivation and activity in older people’s lives, which supported their personal development.
“For older people, participation in digital skills training is often a combination of individual and social reasons.”