Study shows old-schoolers found new horizons

A new study proves that Telia Sweden’s training concept ”Go Digital” has helped elderly people break the isolation of being offline in modern society. The University of Skövde determines that a vast majority of those who take part are now more able to stay in touch with family and to use digital banking and healthcare services. But these are just words. You should see it happen for yourself – right here.

Hans Johansson, 76, isn’t on Facebook. He’s not totally sure “what one would expect to find there”. Neither is Dagmar Åkerström, 80. What they are these days, though, is a lot more confident in trying out online services and in becoming part of the digitalized society. And that newly-found nerve for exploring digital opportunities is a direct result of taking part in Telia Sweden’s training concept “Go Digital” (Mer digital in Swedish).

The backdrop is crystal clear: About 400 000 Swedish seniors are estimated to be alienated from digital society. Meanwhile, the Swedish Government aims to make Sweden the best country in the world at using the opportunities of digitalization. The Government has also decided to speed up the digitalization of the public sector.

Digitalization and digital inclusion  
Telia shares this ambition. The company is dedicated to bringing fiber to all municipalities and to digitalize services for citizens. Of course, and in the long run, it’s all part of modernizing society as a whole. It’s about coaching people to actually take advantage of the opportunities that the changes bring, changes such as the replacement of copper with fiber.
“It is obvious that digital exclusion is a problem for municipalities,” says Telia’s Mia Forsäng, who is heading the “Go Digital” project. “Many of them also point out that digital services such as e-healthcare in the home can contribute to handling the challenges that an increasingly older population brings to the general welfare of a country. But that only works if the potential users of such services, who often are senior citizens, have the skills required to use the services.”

The new study shows that two of the main concerns for senior citizens when it comes to going online is the lack of knowledge and a fear of making mistakes.
But after the training, 70 percent say they now use digital services more, and 90 percent have a more positive view of digital technology.
”Simply put, many participants have advanced their digital habits,” says Eva Söderström, Associate Professor of Data Science at the University of Skövde.

Seniors in the municipality of Sunne first to go digital
The first training session was carried out in January, in the Swedish municipality of Sunne. Around 300 senior citizens were coached in taking the jump out into cyberspace, by 50 students in year 7-9 and 20 public servants from the municipality.

To determine any real results and to follow up, Telia then approached the University of Skövde, giving Söderström and Senior Master of Information Systems Development Jesper Holgersson the task of examining the actual effects of the training on the attitudes and behaviors of the participants.

All the participants answered questions right before and right after the training. Furthermore, they were interviewed again a month later. The result? A vast majority of the participants had become more digital as a direct result of Telia’s training.
”Digitalization really is fantastic,” Söderström says. ”It makes life easier and brings people together. For those reasons, it is so important that we guide our elderly into the digital world.”

Several municipalities have now lined up to carry out similar training sessions together with Telia.

VIDEO: Telia and Sunne municipality help seniors go digital - Meet Dagmar and Hans 

About the study (in Swedish)