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The digital lives of older Australians: Methodology

Guidelines for reading the snapshot

  • All percentages are based on weighted survey estimates.
  • Base sizes are shown as the unweighted number of respondents.
  • All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. As a result, there may be discrepancies between sums of the component items in a table or chart and the total.
  • The research often asked about ‘the last six months’ – this refers to the period immediately before the data was collected. For the 2020 survey, this was from approximately December 2019 to June 2020.
  • Some questions have been filtered depending on the respondent’s previous responses (for example, a question asked only of those who undertook an internet activity in the past 6 months). This is noted in descriptive language in the report and in this document as either ‘All respondents’ in the table or ‘Base’ in the table notes. Care needs to be taken when interpreting the results, so that the data is read in the correct context.
  • Some of the questions invited a multiple response, so total responses may sum to more than 100%.
  • In some cases, ‘don’t know’ or other responses with only small levels of response are not shown – these are noted in the tables below.
  • Categories with low sample sizes (less than n=100 interviews) are not shown.
  • All results shown have been tested for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.
  • Statistically significant changes/differences between groups are identified with red and green arrows as follows: 
    • green arrows: statistically significant increase to the prior year/other sub-groups at the 95% confidence level
    • red arrows: statistically significant decrease to the prior year/other sub-groups at the 95% confidence level.

About the research

The digital lives of older Australians snapshot provides insights about the attitudes and behaviours of older people online (aged 65 and over). It explores the nature of their online habits, which devices they use to stay connected and what activities they participate in, as well as their attitudes about technology. This research is part of the ACMA research program, which gathers evidence that informs our decisions as a regulator, and ensures we are up-to-date on market developments and consumer trends.

Unless otherwise stated, the data contained in The digital lives of older Australians snapshot is from ACMA annual consumer surveys, collected from 2017 to 2020. This ACMA-commissioned research was undertaken by The Social Research Centre (SRC) using the SRC’s probability-based Life in Australia (LinA) online panel. LinA includes people with and without internet access—those without internet access or who are not comfortable completing surveys online are able to complete surveys by phone instead.

The methodology adopted for the consumer surveys was a mixed-mode approach, comprising online interviews with Australian adults and computer-aided phone interviews to reach the adult population who are not regularly online. The surveys were representative of the Australian population aged 18 years and over.

Table 1: ACMA consumer survey summary of key statistics, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total sample (n)

2,277

2,107

2,067

2,009

Online interviews (n)

1,965

1,842

1,824

1,913

Telephone interviews (n)

312

265

243

96

Field work date

16 May – 4 June

14–27 May

6–19 May

9–21 June

Average survey length

19.7 minutes

25.1 minutes

20 minutes

25 minutes

Data from Roy Morgan Research, Single Source Survey is also referenced in this report. This data has been extracted from the Roy Morgan Single Source database for the 12 months to June 2020. All figures refer to 12-month periods. This is either to the end of June (financial year), or to the end of December (calendar year).

The data is based on interviews with Australians aged 18 and over conducted between January 2014 and June 2020. This is weighted to represent approximately 18.2 million Australians as at December 2014 and up to 19.8 million Australians as at June 2020 (see table below).

Table 2: Roy Morgan Single Source research sample sizes for Australians aged 18 and over in the 12 months to June for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total sample (n)

13,884

14,056

13,814

14,389

View more information about Roy Morgan population estimates.

Research sample sizes

The tables below show the annual consumer survey research sample sizes for the charts used in the report.

Internet access in the household

Table 3: Research sample sizes for adults who have internet access in their household

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

641

606

Base: Australian adults who accessed the internet in the last 6 months.

QA2. Does your household have internet access? Yes; No; (Don’t know) / Not sure; (Refused) / Prefer not to say.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Which devices do older people use?

table 4: Research sample sizes for adults who used a device to access the internet in the past 6 months

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

641

606

Base: Australian adults who accessed the internet in the last 6 months.

QD5 Which of the following devices have you used to access the internet in the past 6 months, for personal use. Desktop computer; Laptop computer; Mobile phone; Tablet like an iPad; e-reader like Amazon (Kindle); Kobo; Portable games console for example a PSP or Nintendo Switch; Other games console for example Xbox, PlayStation or Wii; Television or Smart TV; Personal video recorder (PVR) such as Foxtel IQ, Fetch or similar device; Digital media player such as Chromecast, Apple TV or Fetch; Voice controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod; Something else (Please specify); None/don’t use internet (exclusive). 

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Top devices used by older people to go online

Table 5: Research sample sizes for adults who accessed the internet in the past 6 months

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

573

585

Base: Australian adults who accessed the internet in the last 6 months.

QD5. Which of the following devices have you used to access the internet in the past 6 months, for personal use. Desktop computer; Laptop computer; Mobile phone; Tablet like an iPad; e-reader like Amazon (Kindle); Kobo; Portable games console for example a PSP or Nintendo Switch; Other games console for example Xbox, PlayStation or Wii; Television or Smart TV; Personal video recorder (PVR) such as Foxtel IQ, Fetch or similar device; Digital media player such as Chromecast, Apple TV or Fetch; Voice controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod; Something else (Please specify); None/don’t use internet (exclusive).

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

What do older people do online?

Table 6: Research sample sizes for activities done online

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

573

585

Chart base: Australian adults who accessed the internet in the past 6 months for personal use.

QD8. Below is a range of internet-based activities. Please indicate whether or not you have done any of the following in the past 6 months at home or elsewhere. See Table 6 for relevant response options.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

How are older people using apps?

Table 7: Research sample sizes for adults who used communication services for personal purposes by age group

 

May 2019

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

586

585

Chart base: Australian adults who accessed the internet in the past 6 months.

QA1. In the past 6 months, which of the following communication services have you used for personal purposes?  Relevant responses: Used an app for messages, for example Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for video calls, for example Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype; Used an app for voice calls, for example Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Table 8: Research sample sizes for social networking sites or apps used for the 6 months to June 2020

 

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

310

Base: Australian adults who used a social networking site in the last 6 months.

QE2. What sites or apps have you used for social networking in the past 6 months? Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

What are older people streaming?

Table 9: Research sample sizes for adults who watched video content in the past 7 days

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

600

606

Base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QF4. Which of the following have you personally watched in the past 7 days at home or elsewhere?  Free-to-air TV not including catch-up TV or recorded content; Foxtel or other subscription TV channels such as Fetch TV not including catch-up TV or recorded content; Something you recorded from free-to-air TV; Something you recorded from Foxtel or other subscription TV channels; Catch-up TV such as ABC i-view, 10 play or 7Plus for free-to-air programs; Movies or TV shows for free over the internet; An online subscription service such as Netflix, Stan or Foxtel Now; Online pay-per-view services such as OzFlix, Google Play, iTunes; Other content on an online platform such as YouTube, including product reviews, vlogs, comedy/sketch videos excluding any video game content; Watched or played games online including e-sports and fantasy sports; None of these (exclusive).

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Table 10: Research sample sizes for average time spent watching video content in the past 7 days

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

641

606

Base: Australian adults who watched any video content in the past 7 days.

Note: FTA and subscription channels include FTV live or recorded, Foxtel or other subscription TV channels such as Fetch TV not including catch-up TV or recorded content.

QF5. In the past 7 days, how many hours have you spent watching each of the following? Please round up to the nearest hour. If less than 30 minutes, please enter ‘0’. If more than 90 hours, please record as 90.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

What are older people listening to online?

Table 11: Research sample sizes for adults who streamed any music in the past 7 days

 

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

606

Base: Australian adults aged 18 and over

QH5. Which of the following online services have you used to stream music in the past 7 days? This may include using apps.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Table 12: Research sample sizes for adults who have listened to a podcast in the past 7 days

 

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

605

Base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

Note: Don’t know and Refused responses have been excluded from analysis.

QH10. Have you listened to a podcast in the last 7 days?

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

Table 13: Research sample sizes for adults who listened to radio online in the past 7 days

 

Jun 2017

Jun 2020

Aged 65+

641

606

Base: Australian adults aged 18 and over.

QH8 Which of the following have you personally listened to in the past six months? Relevant response: Radio online via the internet, at home in a car or somewhere else not including podcasts.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

How have internet activities changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Table 14: Research sample sizes for change in participation in online activities undertaken since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in March 2020

Activities

Aged 65+

Video conferencing or video calling via an app or web-based service such as Zoom

282

Telehealth

249

Watching video content online such as subscription services, catch-up TV, live streaming, or YouTube

422

Legal, financial or other professional consultations online

76

Chart base varies: Australian adults who participated in the corresponding internet activity in past 6 months.

Note: Legal, financial or other profession consultations online has a small base and results should be interpreted with caution.

QD17. Since the COVID-19 social and physical distancing restrictions were introduced in March 2020, how has your participation in the following activities changed or has it stayed about the same? It has decreased; It has stayed about the same; It has increased; First started this activity since March 2020; Don’t know; Refused.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey.

How do older people feel about technology?

Table 15: Research sample sizes for adults who agreed with the statements

 

2020

2017

65+

5,580

5,737

Base: Australian adults aged 18 and over

BK35Q5. Please say whether you agree or disagree with the following statements. Computers and technology give me more control over my life. I go out of my way to learn everything I can about new technology. I find technology is changing so fast, it’s difficult to keep up with it.  

BK1Q4a. Please say whether you agree or disagree with the following statements. I’m worried about invasion of my privacy through new technology

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source.

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