A much needed Education Reform Act (1988) was implemented within all schools in England and Wales making ICT a compulsory subject. Millennials have had a much wider range of opportunities presented to them through the advancements of technology and have grown up incorporating it into their lives. However, a whole generation of baby boomers were already in their 40s before this reform came into place, meaning there is a huge gap between the two generations.
Recent years have allowed for incredible advancements in technology and “traditional” ways of doing things are being disregarded and replaced with new digital methods. For instance, banks are closing and ‘online banking’ is becoming the most common way to access your bank account. Also, the government is working on their services becoming “digital by default”, meaning everything will be moved online. All kinds of transactions are being done online, yet is seems that this rapid evolution is moving too fast for the baby boomers as they did not grow up in such a connected world. Although some baby boomers have expressed a willingness to learn about technology, the drive to move all essential commercial and social services online means that many baby boomers risk being digitally excluded and unable to function or contribute to everyday life.
Furthermore, the older demographic who have braved it into the new world of cyberspace are at high risk from being victims of cyber-attacks as they have not been adequately prepared for the dangers of being online nor have they been provided with the tools, guidance or materials they need to stay safe online. These elderly individuals are therefore faced with both the challenge of finding their way around cyberspace and protecting themselves from threats they are not even aware exist. This coupled with the frailty of the elderly, makes them a prime target for cyber-attacks by cybercriminals.
The technical knowledge of the older generation has not evolved with technology, yet their wealth is perceived as higher compared to other generations. This provides a demographic of people who are easy to target as well as being highly sought after by attackers. By accommodating both of these attributes, as well as other factors including loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly, there is a huge opening for exploitation. Attackers can play on the vulnerabilities of the elderly and potentially receive a huge gain if their attack is successful.
A lot of focus had be made by government agency such as get safe online to train and equip the younger generation with the skills and tools they need to stay safe online. There is a need to provide the elderly with easily accessible and understandable cyber awareness resource.
My research focuses on providing the elderly with such a cyber awareness resource by facilitating the knowledge transfer of cyber awareness of the younger generation to the elderly. Such an approach not only provides for enhancement of the cyber awareness of the elderly but it also facilitates the enhancement of social cohesion between the two generations. Using collaborative learning pedagogies, I have developed informative content which facilitates the transfer of knowledge between the two generations with the aim of providing guidance and awareness for the vulnerable in a way that can teach them to be engaged with digital technology and stay safe online. My work has involved analysing and prioritising the current threats and building educational content that can be deployed on EduWeb. EduWeb is an EU funded program for combatting digital exclusion by allowing young people to teach older people about technology and provides for the spreading awareness to a wider target audience.
If you are interested in hearing more, I will be doing a talk on Monday 21st May at Talbot Campus during the Assistive Living Technologies Symposium, sponsored by EduWeb, where you can come along for free (by clicking the link and registering) and check out my work as well as many other research domains.