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More Australians need motivation to understand the digital world

14 October, 2009

A significant minority of adult Australians are missing out on the benefits of new digital media, in particular the internet, because of lack of skills, low individual motivation and economic circumstances according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority report.

‘This is a challenge because without the necessary skills and motivation, this group of adult Australians will be left behind as digital media becomes increasingly integrated into everyday social, cultural and economic life,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.

The report, Adult digital media literacy needs, was commissioned to assist the ACMA to understand the attitudes that lie behind the non-use or limited use of digital media (specifically the internet and the mobile phone).

According to a consumer survey conducted by the ACMA in April 2009, 17 per cent of Australians aged 18+ have never used the internet. However, the proportion not having used the internet is higher among older Australians, regional Australians and lower income households.

‘A common characteristic of non-users of digital media and communications is that they have never been required to use technology on a day-to-day basis,’ Chapman said.

‘For example, they might be working outdoors, on the go, in a job that does not involve use of a computer, a stay-at-home parent or a retiree. Not having had the chance to be exposed and experiment online, these people lack an understanding of how the internet works, the commonplace language and terminology, and the ability to transfer skills across applications.’

One of the keys to motivating people to increase their digital media literacy is communicating the possible benefits of using digital media to those who do not currently appreciate how the internet might enhance their lives.

The research makes it clear there is not a one-size fits all approach to increasing skills and participation, with communication and education needs linked to individual attitudes and circumstances.

The report findings will inform development of policies and programs across the states and Commonwealth to build digital media literacy and will assist the ACMA in its provision of consumer advice and protection measures in the areas of cybersafety and e-security.

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