Technology and Older Adults Essay

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Technology and Older Adults It is commonly believed that older people are uncomfortable with new forms of technology and that they are more resistant to using technology than are younger people. This belief often places older people at a disadvantage, because designers fail to consider older people as a potential user group when designing technology, both software and hardware (Parsons, Terner, & Kersley, 1994). Another misconception is that the elderly are unable to learn new skills. Older people are frequently overlooked when opportunities for technology training or retraining are made available, however, a study of aging and cognitive abilities concluded that decreases in intelligence are modest until people reach their…show more content…
Anxiety and task unfamiliarity are variables that increase cautious behavior. Anxiety about working on a computer task is an example of a "generational" cause of cautiousness cited by Okun (1976). What other factors may have caused older adults to shy away from technology? Interestingly, education rather than age may be a hindrance to older adults using technology. A survey found that more than 50% of seniors who are college graduates own a computer compared with only 7% of those with less than a high school education (White; et al., 1999) Finally, older adults, themselves, indicated less confidence about their ability to use computers. In addition, an inverse relationship between computer experience and computer anxiety was found, that is, higher levels of computer experience were associated with less anxiety and more positive attitudes. Although elders may need more time and assistance in learning computer systems, and make more errors in the process, many are embracing this new technology. Older adults, the same as any adult student, are more receptive to using technologies such as computers if they perceive the technologies as being useful and the tasks that they are able to perform with the technologies as being valuable and beneficial (Knowles, 1986). A research study conducted by Microsoft (1999) in conjunction with the American Society on Aging shows that seniors generally recognize the benefits
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