9 June 2020

Research pick: Senior ICT - "Older adults as the internet users: age and gender approach"

Information and telecommunications technology (ICT) has an important role to play in sustaining the quality of life of an aging population. A study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning has investigated the impact of ICT, from both the software and hardware perspective, on older people in the Czech Republic. The findings suggest that older men and women use the internet equally and that gender is not a determining factor in whether they do or not.

Ivana Simonova of the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne in Usti nad Labem and colleagues Petra Poulova, Pavel Prazak, and Blanka Klimova of the University of Hradec Kralove found that older generally use the tools available to them for socialising (communication and sharing images), gaining information (web search and news) and electronic services (banking and shopping). This perhaps reflects the fact that older people are generally no different from younger people who use ICT for the same reasons, perhaps with the addition of employment applications.

The team also found that some older people lack the requisite ICT skills for achieving their goals efficiently. There is also an issue of confidence and training would help them overcome any social or psychological barriers that may well exist. There is also a need to teach older users how to protect themselves from criminals and other online fraudsters, phishers, and scammers. As such, there is a need for training in the use of ICT for older people as well as in teaching them what personal or private information might be collected “legitimately” by the applications and devices they use or harvested illicitly by criminals.

The team concludes that understanding older ICT user behaviour and developing appropriate training should look at seniors as a group but divide them their special and health needs, cognitive function, and previous experience.

Simonova, I., Poulova, P., Prazak, P. and Klimova, B. (2020) ‘Older adults as the internet users: age and gender approach’, Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp.467–482.

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