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Digital inequalities and older adults in Slovenia: An evaluation of the measures implemented under the Digital Inclusion Promotion Act

Code:

V5-2275 ARRS

Period:

1.10.2022 - 30.9.2024

Range on year:

0.17 FTE | 2022

Project leader at FDV:

doc.dr. Simona Hvalič Touzery

Co-financiers:

Javna agencija za znanstvenoraziskovalno in inovacijsko dejavnost Republike Slovenije (ARIS), Ministrstvo za digitalno preobrazbo

Research activity:

Sociology

Researchers:

https://cris.cobiss.net/ecris/si/sl/project/20140

Abstract:

Despite the digital transformation of contemporary society, the number of adults aged 55 and older (older adults) who use the internet remains low. These older adults lack internet skills and face significant barriers to digital inclusion. The digital inclusion of this group would reduce digital inequalities and increase the use of digital public services. The European Commission monitors digital inclusion through the The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) to measure progress in human capital by considering citizens’ digital skills, but the DESI does not provide insight into the relationship between social and digital inequalities at all levels of the digital divide. An integrative approach is essential to understanding the underlying reasons for the disengagement of older adults and to designing and implementing strategies to reduce age-related digital inequalities with digital skills training. Thus, the main objective of this project is to facilitate the digital inclusion of older adults in Slovenia by (i) developing a deeper contextual and methodological understanding of the effectiveness of digital skills measures, (ii) conducting a comprehensive and empirically based assessment of the exposure of older adults to the three levels of the digital divide (i.e., access, skills, and tangiable outcomes), and (iii) reviewing and developing guidelines to implement age-friendly digital services. Using a mixed-methods approach, we will : 1. Conduct a comprehensive review of strategies and actions that promote the digital inclusion of older adults internationally. Specifically, we will conduct (i) a systematic analysis of strategies for the digital inclusion of older adults, (ii) a critical analysis of the different ways to improve the digital skills of older adults in the top DESI index countries, and (iii) a systematic review of the existing knowledge of the determinants of the digital inclusion of older adults in a cross-cultural comparison. 2. Conduct a qualitative study of the effectiveness of the training programmes for older adults that will be implemented as part of the Digital Inclusion Promotion Act (DIPA), examine good practices of digital skills training for them, and formulate theoretically grounded and empirically verified recommendations for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of digital skills training for older adults in Slovenia. 3. Develop and test a methodological instrument to measure aspects of the digital inclusion of older adults that builds on the DESI index and includes all three levels of the digital divide. The instrument will allow continuous monitoring of the progress in the digital skills for Slovenia’s older adults beyond the end of the project. 4. Conduct a preliminary survey in Slovenia to strengthen the conceptual and empirical understanding of the sociotechnical aspects of digital inequalities among older internet users and non-users. These aspects will relate to all levels of the digital divide. Triangulating the results of these activities, we will make recommendations for the development of age-friendly digital public services and guidelines to promote the digital inclusion of older adults and their use of digital public services. This will support a more effective achievement of DIPA’s objectives and increase the sensitivity of stakeholders and decision-makers regarding digital inequalities. The project team has more than two decades of experience conducting internationally recognised interdisciplinary research related to digital inequalities, gerontechnology, and survey methodology and has extensive experience in the research and development of age-friendly e-health and e-care services. The team has excellent international relationships with leading researchers, and the scientific and advisory board for the project is comprised of international pioneers in digital inequalities research. This ensures that the ambitious aims of the proposed project will be fully achieved.


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