Program links seniors with students for IT mentoring 

A new initiative aims to improve seniors’ digital skills by pairing them with secondary school student mentors. 

A new free initiative open to any organisation working with older people aims to improve seniors’ digital skills by pairing them with secondary school student mentors. 

The six-week Young Mentors program, which was launched on Wednesday, brings teenagers together with older Australians to share digital skills and knowledge and help seniors gain the confidence they need to navigate the online world. 

In return, student mentors develop teaching and leadership skills through the weekly one-hour sessions that focus specifically on the needs of the older learners.  

The initaitive is the latest offering in the Be Connected program, which is an Australian Government initiative that aims to empower older Australians to access digital technology and online services. Any organisation with a connection to older Australians, or young people, and looking to build the skills of their community is encouraged to register.

An older learner who took part in the pilot program at St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ in Perth described the program as valuable.

“To anybody who is wondering whether this is a good thing to do or not, you would say to them, that it will be the best opportunity they’re ever going to have in their life because this is a world we’re moving into,” she said in this video case study.  

Julie Inman Grant

People of all ages taking part in the pilot reported increased social connection and understanding across generations, said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

“For those of us who use digital technology as an essential part of our daily lives, we may not realise how novel it can be to older people who have lived much of their lives without it,” Ms Inman Grant said in a statement.

“It’s difficult for anyone to stay on top of the continually evolving digital landscape as new technologies emerge. Ensuring we don’t leave older Australians behind as society continues to move online is essential.” 

For older Australians, the program aims to build confidence in using digital technology to help create a greater sense of independence, provide greater access to services and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.  

Pilot participants of the Be Connected Young Mentors program

“Young Mentors provides an opportunity for genuine connection between generations as we work together to improve digital literacy in Australia, ensuring older Australians can stay connected with family, friends and their communities and empowering younger Australians through a leadership role as digital mentors,” Ms Inman Grant said.  

See Young Mentors in action in eSafety’s pilot promotional video and case studies. Register and access more information at esafety.gov.au/beconnectedyoungmentors.  

Main image: Pilot participants of the Be Connected Young Mentors program

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Tags: esafety commissioner, julie-inman-grant, office-of-esafety-commissioner,

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