Cyber Behaviors among Seniors

Cyber Behaviors among Seniors

Bob Lee (Bowling Green State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch020
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Abstract

Seniors aged 65 and over have been the fastest growing group among Internet users in the past few years. Many factors contribute to the increased use of Information Technologies among seniors, including the known benefits of adopting technologies in their later lives and the improvement of the Internet services addressing their concerns. The cyber seniors demonstrate some unique usage patterns in their engagement in information technologies. And they are more likely to be challenged by numerous barriers when learning and using new technological devices. To ensure a “useful” technology becomes “usable” for seniors, the notion of Information Technology innovation in the future must negotiate those constraints encountered by senior users.
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Reasons For Seniors To Board The Information Highway

The advancement of information communication technology during the first decade of the 21st century has convinced many seniors of taking the information highway to exploring the opportunities for enhancing their quality of life. Madden noted (2010) that once older users get a taste of high-speed access; they often come to rely on the Internet as an everyday utility in their lives. The frequency at which older adults use the Internet is very close to that of younger users. There are numerous factors contributing to the rapid growth of senior navigators in cyber space.

The Internet facilitates a new form of social connection that provides possibilities for older adults to pursue their professional advancement, allowing many seniors, especially those approaching their retirement age, to reconnect with the people from their past. The renewed connection may provide a powerful support network to inspire them to embark on a new career. This endowment becomes extremely important today, given the fact that life expectance has been increasing tremendously and the number of years people will live after reaching their retirement age has been expanded. Most older adults expect to keep working after 65 years old. Eighty percent of the baby boomers plan to be “working retirees” (Dychtwald, 2005).

Another main attraction to seniors navigating on the information highway lies in the availability of substantial health-related information on the Internet. Since aging is a deteriorative process, most older adults have at least one chronic condition and many have to live with multiple health-related problems (Greenberg, 2009). Statistically 8 out of 10 people over 65 have some form of a chronic disease (Teague, McGhee, Rosenthal, & Kearns, 1997). As the Internet offers a wealth of health-related consulting information, numerous older adults are attracted to engage in such activities as blogging or online health discussion. Fox (2004) reported that two thirds (68%) of online seniors have looked up health information. Searching for information on prescription drugs is one of the top reasons that seniors use the Internet. In particular, those well-educated older female users spent much more time online to find medical information in order to manage their chronic health problems (Campbell, 2004).

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