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The use of social media by older Australians doubled in 2020


Older Australians aged 75 and over are using digital communication tools, including social media apps, more than ever, according to a new study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

ACMA’s Communications and Media in Australia: How We Communicate an Interactive Report
showed that social media use by people aged 75 and over had doubled year-over-year from 18% to 41% by June 2020, attributing the report to Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions.

In the same age group, e-mail traffic also increased significantly from 37% in 2019 to 81% in 2020. Calls via mobile phones also increased for this age group from 74% to 94%.

“The digital divide between younger and older Australians has narrowed, and this trend has been accelerated by a desire to keep in touch with friends and family during the lockdown,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

The report also showed that overall one in three Australians increased their use of social networking apps, with Facebook being the most popular at 93%, followed by YouTube at 73%, Instagram 57% and Whatsapp at 48%.

The most used app for communication among all Australians from January to June 2020 was Facebook Messenger with 66%, ahead of Zoom with 43% and Whatsapp with 39%. It was also the first time Zoom was involved in the research.

Keeping in touch with others was a priority for 77% of Australians who used an app to make voice calls, video calls, or send messages in the six months ended June 2020. Compared to 67% in 2019.

“After years of gradually turning to communication and social media apps, we’ve now seen a more marked change in the way Australians connect,” said O’Loughlin.

“More and more people are relying on social networking apps and mobile communication services like Facebook Messenger and Zoom to stay connected.”

Unsurprisingly, cell phones are by far the most popular communication device, with 99% of Australians now using one, according to the study.

Conversely, the use of fixed-line home services continued to decline for most age groups – with the exception of those over 75, for whom their use has remained unchanged since 2019.

Other results of the study were the satisfaction of Australians with their communication services and the results showed that the overall satisfaction with the internet home service increased in June 2020 compared to 2019. This included call waiting times, complaint handling, technical support, service reliability, speed of repairing errors and costs.

This general sense of satisfaction among Australians with their communications services continued through the October-December 2020 quarter, with ACMA’s recent release of telecommunications complaints for the period suggesting that the number of complaints made to telecommunications companies fell by almost 25% from 359,495 to 270,355 is.

If the complaints are broken down by type of service, cellular was still the most frequently complained about at 123,721, followed by NBN broadband at 65,238.

Despite the decrease in complaints during the quarter, the weighted average days to handle complaints increased from 9.8 to 11.5 days. Additionally, there was a 6% increase in escalated complaints compared to the December 2019 quarter.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said telecommunications companies need to put in place better complaint handling systems.

“Telecommunications is an essential service. When consumers experience phone or Internet problems, those complaints need to be resolved quickly and on the first try,” said Teresa Corbin, CEO of ACCAN.

“It shouldn’t take nearly 20 days to resolve a consumer complaint like one of the telecommunications companies highlighted in the ACMA report. It’s just not good enough.”

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton, on the other hand, welcomed the improvement during the quarter.

“This reflects the hard work telecommunications companies have put into improving customer service, including through the challenges of COVID,” he said.

He referred to the revised Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code as an example of the industry “stepping up” consumer protection.

“In addition, telecommunications companies have been working on innovative service offerings and with carriers to expand customer choice and improve the customer experience,” added Stanton.

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