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NKG 2024

Strengthening Seniors’ Digital Inclusion with Peer-to-Peer Guidance – Media Skills as an Essential Part of the Necessary Digital Skill Set

SeniorSurf of the The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older Adults participates in Nordic Congress of Gerontology in June 2024. On this page you can find more information about the work SeniorSurf does for strengthening the media skills and digital inclusion of seniors. See references and further readings at the bottom of this page. More information, please contact seniorsurf@vtkl.fi

Seniors learning digital and media skills

In Finland, media education is included in the national curricula. Supporting the media skills of seniors, is, however, no one’s responsibility. That is why SeniorSurf Finland decided to conduct a survey on the theme.

Organizations, libraries, civic colleges and various projects offer seniors places to learn, but most of them focus on advising the use of digital devices and media applications. Along with that, more training and support is needed in the areas of media literacy, such as understanding content, critical evaluation and producing own media content. (Rivinen et al. 2021.)

How Does Non-formal Learning Work?

The role of peer guidance and non-formal learning in learning digital skills for seniors has been demonstrated both in practice and in research. Peer tutors are found to be approachable and encouraging. Digital guidance also brings many benefits to the volunteers themselves: it helps to develop their own digital skills and increase social well-being and a sense of meaning. (see e.g. Korpela et al. 2023; SeniorSurf 2022.)

Examples of non-formal learning:

  • One-to-one peer guidance
  • Remote digital guidance
  • Informative presentations
  • Learning groups

What Are Media Skills?

Media skills consist of various different areas of knowledge and skills that can strengthen inclusion and democracy.

Contents for which the media can be used

  • Digital information search
  • News and current affairs
  • Wellness and wellbeing
  • Producing, participating, influencing
  • Enterntainment

Skills that are important when using media

  • Critical thinking
  • Mis- and disinformation
  • Copyright
  • Interaction skills
  • Digital footprint

Why Does Digital Inclusion Matter?

Digital inclusion

”Inclusion of an individual means being heard, participating, and interacting. An included person feels they form a meaningful part of the whole.” (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, 2023).

Digital inclusion is being able to participate in a digitizing society. Achieving it requires both digital skills and media literacy. (Kuusisto et al., 2022.)

The Survey – Seniors’ Media Skills in Finland

SeniorSurf Finland of the Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older Adults produced a survey in August 2023 to find out what different media channels senior citizens (65+ years old) use to follow news and current affairs, and how do they assess their own skills to use different media channels.

The survey (n=800) was conducted by Suomen Kyselytutkimus Oy in August 2023 by internet panel (n=400) and phone interviews (n=400). The 800 participants were from different regions of Finland

  • aged 65–74 years =58%; 75-99 years=42%
  • 51 % of them women and 49% men

Survey Findings

Media channels used by seniors for following current affairs and news

  • Television 95 %
  • Radio 64 %
  • Online news 62 %
  • Newspapers 60 %
  • Internet search 59 %

How do seniors participate in media?

  • 39 % has participated in decision-making (in municipals, councils for the elderly, housing associations etc.)
  • 31 % has participated in current discussions e.g in opinion section of newspapers or on social media
  • 26 % does not find participation meaningful

Noteworthy: 24 % could produce more content in media if they felt it mattered.

How do seniors want to increase their media skills

  • 43 % through practice, independently
  • 36 % in a group or talking with others
  • 37 % are not interested in learning new skills

Conclusions and Outcomes

To support the learning of media skills, more material suitable for the target group is needed.

In 2024 SeniorSurf Finland has produced e.g.:

Discussion cards that help seniors to reflect on their own relationship with media skills. The cards are divided into four topics: feeling, experience and skills, knowledge and sources of information.

An online learning group of 10 participants based on peer learning was piloted in April-May 2024. The theme of the group was artificial intelligence. The model could be used also more widely to teach media skills to senior citizens.

Piirroskuvassa työntekijä läppärin ääressä. Neljä opastajaa kuplissa, etäyhteyden päässä toisistaan.

A printable instruction in plain language on how to use Google Lens with laptops and mobile devices to identify objects, search for information or even translate texts.

A video instruction in plain language on how to evaluate reliable information online and how to distinguish real news from someone’s opinion.

In a drawing two people stand next to a stand full of leaflets.


Finnish Society on Media Education. (2024, April). Sanastoa – Mediataidot. https://mediakasvatus.fi/mediakasvatus/#toggle-id-5

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. (2023). Osallisuuden edistäjän opas. Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos. https://www.julkari.fi/handle/10024/146717

Korpela, V., Pajula, L., & Hänninen, R. (2023). Older Adults Learning Digital Skills Together: Peer Tutors’ Perspectives on Non-Formal Digital Support. Media and Communication, 11(3), 53–62. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i3.6742

Kuusisto, O., Merisalo, M. & Kääriäinen, J. (toim.) (2022). Digiosallisuus Suomessa. Valtioneuvoston selvitys- ja tutkimustoiminnan julkaisusarja 2022:10 Helsinki: Valtioneuvoston kanslia. https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/163789

Rivinen, S., Rasi, P., Vuojärvi, H. & Purtilo-Nieminen, S. (2021). Ikäihmiset tarvitsevat digitukea laaja-alaisempaa mediakasvatusta. In Tiedeneuvonnan kehittämishanke Sofi (Ed.), Ilmiökartta: digitalisen median vaikutukset lapsiin, nuoriin ja ikäihmisiin, 30–33. Tiedeneuvonnan kehittämishanke Sofin Ilmiökartta-projektin koontiraportti, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia. https://acadsci.fi/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Ilmiokartta_Digimedian-vaikutukset_koontiraportti_Sofi_2021.pdf

SeniorSurf. (2022). Opastustoiminta opastajien silmin. Opastajakysely vapaaehtoisille digiopastajille. Vanhustyön keskusliitto, SeniorSurf-toiminta. https://seniorsurf.fi/opastustoiminta-opastajien-silmin/

Material for organizations who coordinate digital guidance and volunteer activities

These materials have been produced by SeniorSurf and translated in English in August 2023. Hope you’ll find them useful! More information about SeniorSurf in English you can find on our web page.

Further readings about seniors’ media skills (in Finnish only):

SeniorSurf Finland’s media skill materials: www.seniorsurf.fi/mediataidot

Metsävainio, M., Ziessler, N., Niemi, E. & Etelämäki, T. (2024). Seniorien mediataidot – kyselytutkimus seniorien käyttämistä medioista ja ajankohtaisen tiedon lähteistä. SeniorSurf-toiminta, Vanhustyön keskusliitto ry. https://seniorsurf.fi/wp-content/uploads/Raportti_kyselytutkimus_Seniorien-mediataidot_SeniorSurf_VTKL_2024.pdf.

Niemi, E., Ziessler, N., Jansson A. & Etelämäki, T. (2024). Mediataidot osana seniorien osallisuuden kokemusta digitalisoituvassa yhteiskunnassa. In E. Airola, A. Kanerva, R. Kupiainen, M. Maasilta, M. Mäenpää, L. Pekkala, S. Salomaa (Eds.), Mediakasvatus hyvinvoinnin ja osallisuuden tukena, (73-86). Cuporen verkkojulkaisuja 81. Kulttuuripolitiikan tutkimuskeskus Cupore. https://www.cupore.fi/julkaisut/mediakasvatus-hyvinvoinnin-ja-osallisuuden-tukena/