E-Bridge to mobility was created after observing the EU labour market and analysing the needs of Eastern Europe

emigrants (especially those from Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). They move from one EU country to another (in particular the U.K., Germany and Spain) for educational, financial or social reasons.

Bulletin 10 September/October 2010
Digital exclusion of Polish seniors

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Today, one in every three Poles is over 50 years old, but only one out of four seniors uses the Internet. Poland is at the very bottom of the list in the European Union when it comes to using network resources. Lack of access to the Internet is not the only consideration, but also little engagement of public institutions and organizations that could support occupational and social activity of seniors is problematic.
In 2009 30 percent of Polish people aged between 55 and 64 declared that at least once in their life they have used the Internet. This is 18 percent less than an average in the European Union. In a group of 65-74 year olds only 8% of Polish seniors have made such declaration. In the whole European Union the findings were on the mark of 25%. A research made for the Opening Report of the “M@turity on the Network” Coalition shows how important it is to promote using the Internet. A majority of the over 50s in Poland who have so far had no contact with the network, does not envisage accessing the Internet in the coming six months. Only 6% of them declare that in the next few months they will start using the network and only 1% of seniors confirmed that. Factors influencing access to the network, are not only social and economic but also location. The smallest percentage of people using the Internet is noticed in the Eastern regions of Poland and usually among the inhabitants of villages and towns. For example, in Warsaw as many as 42% of people over 50 use the network, in Poznań it is 41%, while in Łódź only 31%. The level of education is also a significant factor. Almost 60% of Internet users are people having higher education, 32% are seniors with secondary education, while 2% are Poles with vocational education.

Barriers to Internet usage
Financial barriers, range barriers, hardware barriers, psychological barriers, auto-exclusion from the world of new technologies, no need to use the Internet, lack of knowledge, lack of skills enabling the usage of Internet.


According to Polish seniors the reason why they do not use the Internet are not financial, but the fact that they feel no need to use the Internet and are not interested in it at all. This type of declaration was made by nearly two-thirds of Poles over 60. This thesis is confirmed by the fact that nearly a half of Polish people aged over 50 have a computer and 40% of them have access to the Internet as well. At the same time less than a half of them currently use the opportunities offered by these technologies. There is also a large group of people who do not have access to the Internet, but this has nothing to do with technological barriers, as they could access it if they wanted, as their neighbours have it. Among people aged 50 or over , no more than 28% of those who do not use the network do not have it in their area (more than half of them does not know if there is access in their neighbourhood). In the Report “M@turity on the Network” only 5% of respondents aged over 50 and not using the Internet indicated high costs as a reason for not using the Internet. Research shows therefore, that the biggest problem is a lack of awareness in a society that knows little or nothing about the Internet or does not see the need to use it, or that many people have only negative associations with the Internet. The lower the awareness of the usage and opportunities offered by modern technologies, the greater the need to make everyone realize how important it is to develop a communication society based on knowledge and modern technologies, including the Internet. It is also worth emphasising which of the opportunities offered by the

Internet are exploited by the 50+ generation of users. Most seniors use the Internet mainly to search for information, check the weather forecast, contact their relatives or for entertainment.

What are Polish people looking for on the Internet? Looking for the national and international news (27%), checking the prices of products (17%), weather forecasts (13%), work-related information (12%), looking for other people, e.g. on community portals (12%), recipes (11%)

One of the reasons why the percentage of the Internet users in Poland is still very low is the fact that people, who are not using the Internet have a very limited knowledge about the applications, content and advantages connected with the usage of this medium. Lack of knowledge may result in low motivation to start using the web. There is a great need to raise awareness in Polish society. Seniors are not aware of the fact that the Internet supports occupational, social and cultural activity, increases mobility and creates new opportunities to satisfy needs, develop the areas of interest as well as participate in social life. Therefore, the model for an active retirement should be promoted in order to increase the self-realization and self-esteem of elderly people. It is important to help the older generation maintain its independence, so that the elderly do not have to rely on the care of their relatives which may be a direct cause of digital exclusion resulting also in social marginalization. Access to appropriate help is a barrier to the process of acquiring knowledge linked to Internet use. The courses are often expensive and instructions difficult to follow. The use of English terms does not make the adventure with modern technologies easier. Unfortunately, the desire to develop skills to benefit from Internet use is also limited. According to the Central Office of Statistics in 2007 only 11% of Poles aged 50+ have taken advantage of the opportunity to follow courses. In spite of these statistics, seniors identify courses and training as being the main way to acquire a sufficient level of competence in the use of modern technologies. Compared to seniors from other EU countries, the Polish 50+ generation seldom takes up the opportunity to participate in courses: in the 55-64 age group, the take-up rate is only only 3% in Poland, the EU average being 10%. The take-up rate is no higher for courses organized by employers. Only 7% of Polish seniors benefited from IT training, while the average in the Union was 17%. The take-up rate of the 65+ generation is even lower: none of the Polish

The „E-bridge” partners:

respondents took advantage of the opportunity, whereas in the rest of the EU seniors have been acquiring IT skills. A social diagnosis prepared In 2009 shows that the main reason for using the Internet is to search for national and international news as well as viewing the WWW pages. Seniors use the opportunity to communicate with other people of their age less frequently, on-line banking, shopping or job seeking. The possibilities for professional development via the Internet are hardly ever considered by the 50+ generation. It is also interesting to note that more than half of seniors are looking for information connected with public administration on the Net. Some seniors would like to use online forms to deal with official matters without leaving their homes. The findings of the Opening Report of the“M@turity on the Network”Collision indicates that Polish seniors, who are use the network regularly maintain their professional activity for a longer time and often receive higher salaries. It Is important to point out that Internet users have a greater chance of promotion. Moreover, contrary to the stereotypes, instead of weakening interpersonal relationships, the Internet reinforces them, having a positive influence on the self-esteem and well-being of people aged 50+. Social Diagnosis shows a very positive influence of the use of this modern medium, using the Internet increases older people’s desire to get involved in life. The main economic priority of the Community is e-integration and the development of the communication society in an ageing Europe. Modern technologies are expected

to support longer professional activity of elderly people and lower the costs of care for dependent ones. The plan assumes mobilization of the society for professional and social activity in order to improve the quality of life and economic situation of the EU countries. Poland has a lot of work to do in this field. The activity of many social organizations, public administration institutions and business-related organizations preventing digital exclusion is based on wide-scale promotion of modern technologies. First of all it is necessary to inform seniors about the advantages for the whole of society that Internet use brings about as well as to educate the 50+ generation in the field of modern technologies, starting by encouraging seniors to communicate with their families or search for interesting and important information connected with everyday life. E-integration of the 50+ generation is just beginning to get going. The Ebridge to mobility project is one of the few resources where seniors can find out about modern technologies. E-bridge to mobility helps fight the fear of Internet resources and offers an opportunity to increase professional competences, e.g. linguistic skills. The project aims at increased activity of users and promotion of their mobility as they grow older. Both the project web page and the language teaching applications have been prepared in such a way that every user can use them intuitively. Seniors often give up using the Internet because the websites are too complicated for them. The E-bridge web page is straightforward and user-friendly. On the one hand the project products are

independent elements supporting language learning, while at the same time they complement one another. E-bridge is trying to break down the stereotypes of thinking about modern technologies as complicated scientific solutions. Learn more at www.2mobility.eu

The basic assumptions of a plan to minimize digital exclusion: • enabling unrestricted activity of seniors on the labour market. New technologies are expected to support the activity and productivity on the labour market, as well as the process of acquiring new skills, mainly through e-learning • enabling seniors to function comfortably in society. The opportunities of establishing new relationships as well as staying in touch with family thanks to ICT , especially in rural areas, as well as in towns. Modern technologies minimize social marginalization • enabling seniors to function comfortably at home. Sustaining everyday activity, the will to live a longer life, improving their mental health and well-being and giving them a greater opportunity of self-realization

The above text was based on the Opening Report of the „M@turity on the Network” Coalition prepared by a team lead by Dominik Batorski Ph.D., on the initiative and with support from UPC Poland From alienation to adaptation Poles aged 50+ and the Internet

The „E-bridge” partners: