We know from the CIBER report (pdf) I referred to in a previous post that many older people are starting to catch up to younger people in terms of ICT competence. But what else can we say about older people’s attitudes to ICTs?
OfCom, the Office of Communications in the UK conducted a study (pdf) (why isn’t there more Aussie research??!!!) in July 2006 on just that topic. Here’s what they found:
- Age is one of the most significant factors influencing whether or not people engage with ICTs (p. 1); however, attitude and character are key to whether or not people are actually connected to the internet (not health, age or income)
- Tailoring the learning environment specifically for older people is essential to engaging them in taking up ICTs (p. 4)
- Those who are not connected will find themselves increasingly excluded (p. 1)
Attitudes could be broken down into four segments, with two user-types (pp. 3-4):
- Current users: Absorbers (obliged to learn computers at work) and Self-starters (had learnt themselves)
- Non-user: Rejecters (people who, for diverse reasons, rejected ICT uptake entirely and disengaged (keen to learn, given the right circumstances)
Interestingly, for the most experienced users of tech, there was little emotional involvement; the opposite applied (feelings of wonder, excitement, fear, anxiety) to those who were less experienced (p. 5-6).
What we can certainly take away from the OfCom report is that older people who currently aren’t engaged in ICTs will certainly become so given patience and understanding on the part of those who teach them.