Privacy Perceptions of Older Adults When Using Social Media Technologies

Privacy Perceptions of Older Adults When Using Social Media Technologies

Dan Dumbrell (The University of Sydney, Australia) and Robert Steele (The University of Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8897-9.ch085
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Social media technologies represent an emerging means by which older adults can access health and community information, engage in peer-to-peer information sharing, and also potentially decrease social isolation. Privacy concerns, however, have been consistently identified as a barrier for older adults' use of the Web and social media technologies. The authors conduct a preliminary study involving 150 older adult participants, investigating their use and perceptions of social media technologies. The trial involved first providing the participants with brief training in three common social media technologies: Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. The authors carried out a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the participant's use and privacy perceptions of these technologies. Overall, the results are promising as to the potential to address privacy concerns to enable older adults to further utilize these technologies for improved mental, physical, and social health. Implications for future research and usage within the older adult community are also discussed.
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It is believed that technology usage and adoption amongst older adults will continue to grow, as the majority of baby boomers have already used computers (Harkin and Huber 2004), and are also likely to have more exposure and experience with information technologies. However previous studies indicate that the older the individual, the less likely they are to have interest and experience in using computers (Brosnan, 1998; Billipp, 2001; Czaja and Lee, 2001). Moreover, it has been found that older adults are likely to experience fear and anxiety when interacting with computers (Ellis and Allaire 1999). However it is envisioned that the future older generations may not experience the same level of anxiety and fear that current older generations experience as many baby boomers already have experience with technologies before their retirement. For example, many of them have already used computers and email due to the prevalence of technologies in today’s environment, and those below the retirement age and still working are likely to be influenced by the use of new technologies in their workplace (Harkin and Huber, 2004). Recently it has been found that half of adults aged 65 and older are now online, and one in three of these online users are on social networking sites such as Facebook (Zickuhr and Madden, 2012).

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