Understanding technology adoption behavior by older adults
Kenneth Hsiche Wang (Lunghwa University of Science and Technology and Peking University), Gong Chen (Peking University), and Houn-Gee Chen (National Taiwan University), 2018, 46(5), 801–814. 

I feel great empathy with the topic of understanding technology adoption behavior by older adults. I would definitely have been a late adopter of technology, if it had not been necessary in my work as an Interlibrary loan librarian at the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was noticeable when everyone was learning how to use the first online catalog that older adult students were much less confident than younger students. Fear of embarrassment did not affect the younger students.

The authors of this study point out that there are many barriers to computer and Internet use, which are magnified for older adults.  In addition, there are age-related psychological and physiological challenges, not to mention demographic factors such as educational attainment and lifestyle, which affect older adults’ adoption of technology.

Unlike younger people, older people need to be convinced of the necessity and advantages in having mobile phones and computers. When they realize that they are missing out on contact with their children or grandchildren, they are more willing to use email and Skype overseas family members. Nevertheless, it can be discouraging having to often seek assistance from younger members of the family: I speak from personal experience! How will I manage with my iPhone when I am away from my daughter?

Participants in this study were found to have a negative perception of technological products, and if they found the products to be too complicated or lacking advantages, they rejected them. They were also, unlike the younger generation, loathe to spend money on a new computer/cellphone. Their view was to wait to see how it worked for others before deciding it was something they really needed. However, despite difficulties that they faced, when they were convinced of the products’ value, they continued using them.

The authors provide recommendations for the technological industry to encourage older adults to use their products, and thus enjoy the advantages of doing so.

Katharine Samuel | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal