Encouraging Social Inclusion for Older Adults Through “Interest”-Led Technology Use

Encouraging Social Inclusion for Older Adults Through “Interest”-Led Technology Use

Jeanie Beh, Bruno Mascitelli, Sonja Pedell
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7402-6.ch012
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There are many misconceptions about older adults' capabilities and aspirations, and especially their attitudes and approach towards technology. They are often misunderstood and seen as uninterested and unmotivated to engage with use of technology. Due to an absence of an “interest” framework for older adults to learn mobile touch screen technologies, this chapter investigates the role that pre-existing interests play in older adults' adoption of technology. Can a curriculum guided only by pre-existing interests of older adults, rather than a structured curriculum have a positive influence on its adoption for mobile touch screen technologies? The results show that when older adults are taught according to requests based on their pre-existing interests, it encouraged long-term adoption of technology including building up their confidence in usage of mobile touch screen technologies.
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As technology of all varieties becomes more accessible to the totality of society across all generations and as an outcome of increased life expectancy, older adults are leading lives that are more active in their third age. While the world was embracing the shift with touch screen technology and the Internet in our everyday lives, people were actually living longer compared to their predecessors (DESA, 2015). The developed countries were the first to undergo this major shift and currently, it is a worldwide phenomenon. Although this brings about societal and economical challenges (Sander, Oxlund, Jespersen, Krasnik, Mortensen, Westendorp, Rasmussen, 2015) it also presents a new array of opportunities. Older adults do this in creating for themselves opportunities to learn new skills and pursue new interests and hobbies to challenge themselves. At the same time, there are many misconceptions about older adults’ capabilities and aspirations, especially their attitudes towards technology (Cherry, Brigman, Lyon, Blanchard, Walker, & Smitherman, 2016). They are often misunderstood and seen to lack interest and motivation in the use of technology even though studies have shown otherwise (Anderson & Perrin, 2017). What has become evident to government authorities is that there is low-level uptake of technology amongst older adults (Chen, McGaughey, Zeltmann, Lu, Hsin-Ke, &, Maria, 2018). Not being able to use technology is isolating and makes it difficult for older adults to conduct their everyday lives (Quan-Haase, Guang & Wellman, 2018). Hence, it is imperative for older adults to participate in technology use. Thus, the aim of this chapter is to seek out ways and means in which social and digital inclusion for older adults can occur. This chapter aims to explore the relationship of older adults to pre-existing “interests” and their interest in technology with reference to Hidi and Renninger’s Four-Phase Model of Interest Development (2006). In order to better understand the subject matter of this theme, the definition of terms such as “older adults” and “interest” will be required. Older adults generally refers to people 65 years old and over, mainly to represent a benchmark of life stage, whereby it is considered a legal retirement age and eligibility for pension (OECD, 2018). In Australia, in order to be eligible to apply for senior’s card, the minimum age is 60 years and working less than 35 hours per week (DHS, 2018). The use of the term “interest” refers to older adults’ individual interests and hobbies in general. However, in order to avoid confusion, it will be referred to as pre-existing interests. When interest is described as a verb, the word will be presented in italic, whereas in the case of a noun, it will not be italicised.

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