Perceptions and Attitudes of Spanish “Digital Seniors” Towards E-Government

Perceptions and Attitudes of Spanish “Digital Seniors” Towards E-Government

María Sánchez Valle, Carmen Llorente Barroso, Leopoldo Abad Alcalá
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJEGR.297228
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A typology of user was explored as to behaviour and perception of e-Government through a telephone survey involving 405 Internet users between 60 and 79 years of age. Ten different groups were identified by means of dimensionality reduction techniques followed by a cluster analysis. The main conclusion is that there is no consistent pattern, although among the groups which do use e-Government, they have less concerns than the rest and see less need for modifications to be applied to adapt the websites to the needs of seniors. Within this older age group, two types are clearly identified. Those who feel uncomfortable, which explains their avoidance of e-Government, and to a lesser degree, those whose lack of contact with public administration may be due to a lack of interest for such services. It appears that a senior-friendly offering together with learning opportunities would increase interest for this channel.
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E-Government implies the implementation of ICT in the different services of public administration. It is not purely a website, but the integration of transparency, responsibility and citizen participation in the evaluation of the performance of the government (Bayona & Morales, 2017). The development of e-Government has allowed diverse digital interactions (Siren & Knudsen, 2017), enabling citizens and companies fast and efficient access to public services (Molnár et al., 2017) and to democratic processes and government policies (Liikanen, 2003). Iannaccia, et al. (2019) state that the mature models of e-Government have had relatively stable trajectories which are marked by radical changes directed at the complete transformation of electronic government and are unpredictable.

E-Government is an opportunity for all, though particularly for seniors, who show a growing interest (Molnár et al., 2017), are reasonably satisfied with the provided services, and display a positive attitude towards their use (Yap et al., 2017). However, on exploring the factors which influence the adoption and maturity of e-Government, it is seen that, although for different reasons, the presence of both old and young age groups has a negative effect (Budding et al., 2018).

Many seniors experience difficulties, specifically, technical barriers, both economic and social which respond to individual and structural matters (Baker et al., 2017). However, although it is considered that people more familiar with ICT are able to pick up e-Government innovations more rapidly than seniors (Chirara, 2018), e-Government cannot exclude this social group, who could view their citizen rights as being restricted. (Abad-Alcalá, 2016; Abad-Alcalá et al., 2017; Burholt et al., 2019; Viñarás-Abad et al., 2017). An adequate digitalisation of governmental services guarantees the functionality of the services and the autonomy of the citizens, which is particularly important in the case of seniors, who consider ‘autonomous life’ means wellbeing and quality of life (Siren & Knudsen, 2017). The minimal use of computers and ICT by seniors at the beginning of the century reflected the lack of perceived importance to them (Selwyn et al., 2003). In general, various research has indicated the positive psycho-social impact which the use of ICT has on seniors (Abad-Alcalá et al., 2017; Shapira et al., 2007; Viñarás-Abad et al., 2017). As for seniors who have never had contact with ICT, the use of these technologies brings them confidence, independence and social commitment (Baker et al., 2017). The Internet provides multiple possibilities for an active and autonomous old age (Llorente-Barroso et al., 2015; Slegers et al., 2007), which favours citizen empowerment of this age group (Llorente et al., 2018; Sánchez-Valle et al., 2017; Slegers et al., 2007). However, seniors do not take full advantage of the Internet nor use it as frequently nor as easily as do younger generations (Chadwick-Dias et al., 2007), fundamentally, due to complex web designs where navigation and use are not particularly intuitive (Llorente-Barroso & Sáez-Díez-Rebanal, 2019), and distrust performing online procedures (Viñarás-Abad et al., 2017). Consequently, to encourage a higher use of online services, it would be advisable to adapt the interface to a senior-friendly design (Llorente-Barroso & Sáez-Díez-Rebanal, 2019; Lunn et al., 2009; National Institute on Aging, 2009; University of Maryland, 2001; Web Accessibility Initiative, 2010) which incorporates a social value related to their specific needs (Yap et al., 2017).

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