The elderly are often regarded as one of the minority group in the digital world, as many typically refuse to use the Internet and are hence being excluded due to their poor IT knowledge. The Elderly group was formed by 4 students from Netmission Ambassadors. The aim was to organize a community project to raise society’s awareness of the need to include the elderly in the cyber world.
In 2010, we partnered with Cybersenior, a non-government organization in Hong Kong that organizes classes for the elderly to help them learn computer skills. We conducted a survey to study the computer usage behavior of the elderly and their respective reasons for accepting or refusing the digital world. Within 3 months, we collected more than 190 respondent’s answers and conducted a quantitative analysis with the use of Chi-square analysis to study the relationship among answers. Our general findings are as follows:
- eaching old people to use email functions and search engines will be the most effective way to increase their willingness to use the Internet.
- Despite the obstacles faced by the elderly group using computers, they still make use of the information technology regularly.
- Ease of access to computers does not affect motivation to learn.
We have also found that, despite the obstacles faced by the elderly group using computers, many still make use of information technology regularly. In fact, many have expressed the desire to keep abreast with technology, citing that it helps them develop common conversation topics amongst their peers and family. Some of them have also said they would prefer having activities to kill time, as traditional means of entertainment can no longer satisfy some of the old people. So as long as they can manage it, they will give computers a try.
As a result, we found that it is possible to advocate the use of computer and Internet to the elderly group, if certain main concerns are addressed. Hopefully, this can also serve to ease their sense of loneliness, especially if they live alone.
The survey results highlight that poor eyesight is the greatest barrier stopping the elderly from integrating into the digital world. Enlarging the monitor size and display front size may address the issue.