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Monash University

Grant round: 2015

Grant: $14,572

A range of Australians find themselves acting as ‘proxy internet users’ – i.e. using online services and applications on behalf of other adults who otherwise make limited use of the internet.

Researchers at Monash University and Federation University have looked at the way proxy use works, finding that despite proxy internet users commonly involving themselves in important and/or ‘risky’ online activities – e.g. banking, personal finances and purchasing goods, few have considered the possible implications of their help to both themselves, or the person they are assisting.

The paper below highlights a number of issues that merit attention from communications stakeholders and provides a set of recommendations to help ensure proxy internet use can be a positive experience for all.

Also check out the Proxy User Tip Sheet which runs consumers through some of the things to think about if you are using the internet on another's behalf.

Download: pdfGoing Online on Behalf of Others - an investigation of ‘proxy’ internet consumers1.38 MB

Download: docxGoing Online on Behalf of Others - an investigation of ‘proxy’ internet consumers200.06 KB

Tipsheet: Using the internet on behalf of others

Doctor helping older man access the internet on tabletDo you sometimes act as a ‘proxy internet user’ – where you use online services and applications on behalf of someone else who otherwise makes limited use of the internet? Proxy internet assistance often takes place within families – notably elderly parents being helped by their adult children. Other proxy users include people acting in a professional capacity – for example carers, social workers and other public-facing professionals who assist clients with specific online tasks.

 If you are using the internet for someone else then here are some tips for effective and safe support

If possible, try to make using the internet a learning experience

  • Try to teach the person that you are helping, rather than simply doing things for them. It can be very frustrating to help someone who is not familiar with the internet. However, people will gain skills and understanding by seeing what you are doing, so try to include them in everything that you do.
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