Vodafone Ireland Foundation highlights its Hi Digital online digital skills learning platform ahead of Christmas with help from Late Late Toy Show Favourites Nanny Pat Corcoran and Tom Cullen
15th December 2021: The importance of digital literacy has become very apparent over the past two years and according to research conducted by Vodafone Ireland Foundation, a quarter (25%) of the Irish public say their older relatives’ digital skills are poor or very poor*. It was also found that 79% agreed they would feel more connected to their older relatives if their digital skills were improved.
Hi Digital, developed by Vodafone Ireland Foundation, alongside Active Retirement Ireland and ALONE, is an online learning platform aimed at those over the age of 65. Hi Digital provides bite-size lessons organised around key digital themes, including the basics of internet access and how to use online devices; an essential guide to apps and features that can enhance daily life and combat isolation.
In Ireland, digital literacy levels of those over 65 years old are among the lowest in Europe. The pandemic has exacerbated this problem as it saw more communities and services move online at an unprecedented rate. As well as an ability to connect to essential services, a lack of digital skills can lead to isolation. 79% of those polled agreed they would feel more connected to their older relatives if they had the ability to use digital technology such as a smartphone or tablet, allowing generations to connect and share experiences.
The Hi Digital platform has been created for beginners and supports self-learners as well as those helping older people get online through its mentor guide. With 86% of those surveyed willing to mentor an older relative or friend on digital skills, the festive season marks the perfect time to make a start as families gather over the coming weeks.
Helping raise awareness of Hi Digital this Christmas are Pat Corcoran, affectionately known as Nanny Pat, and Tom Cullen from Co. Leitrim, who captured the nations hearts during their appearance on The Late Late Toy Show in 2019. The following year, after the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nanny Pat joined Ryan Tubridy once more on the Late Late Show via Skype, much to Tom’s surprise.
Speaking on the initiative, Pat said “It is easy to become isolated during these difficult times and being able to connect with my family and friends online has made a huge difference. Getting better with technology can seem like a big hill to climb but learning skills bit by bit has helped me and of course, my family are always here to support whenever they can. Hi Digital is a great initiative for those taking their first steps into digital learning, I can say hand on heart, it’s something you won’t regret.”
Communicating remotely is something that has become second nature to many of us so it’s no surprise learning how to make a video call is the top skill the Irish public would like to teach their older relatives (50%), closely followed by using a smartphone (48%), sending a text message (34%) and getting online to browse the internet (30%). Topics covered through Hi Digital’s online course include understanding smartphone features, keeping in touch through WhatsApp and social media, planning trips, researching interests and hobbies, online shopping as well as educating on online safety.
Liz Roche, Head of Vodafone Ireland Foundation said, “Hi Digital’s mission is to give people over 65 access to free, online digital training, supporting them to build confidence and skills. Through our commitment to this programme, we want to change older people’s attitude and behaviour towards technology. We know improving digital literacy skills of older people can have a positive impact on quality of life, and overall mental health and wellbeing by keeping people connected. As many of us spend time with loved ones over the Christmas period, there is a great opportunity to share our knowledge with those who struggle with digital literacy. Hi Digital has been developed as a 360° approach to digital upskilling, covering a wide range of topics from understanding smartphone features, to social media, researching interests and hobbies and online safety, arming everyone with the tools they need to remain connected.”
People can participate in the programme online at HiDigital.ie with further face-to-face training to be rolled out next year.
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