Internet use of consumers aged 40 and over: Factors that influence full adoption
Euehun Lee, Semi Han, and Yanghon Chung (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), 2014, 42(9), 1563–1574

I found this article fascinating as I am an avid user of technology and the Internet as well as being in the age bracket tested. I am very aware of the digital divide (p. 1564) between generations.  I know many people in my generation and older who are not interested in Internet applications, and when I have asked why, the common reasons given were fear of privacy loss, lack of perceived usefulness, cost, and anxiety regarding perceived stress that is linked with computer usage.

The authors confirm my personal observations, stating that “Internet access alone cannot deliver benefits if mature consumers have negative opinions about the Internet” (p. 1564). And similar reasons for reluctance to engage with Internet technology were found by the authors (p. 1566):

"When consumers are confronted by new technology, some view these advancements as a threat and feel anxiety toward using new technologies. They feel they have limited control of the situation and experience a higher level of stress. They may require coping strategies to handle this stress, and this could cause passive acceptance of new technology (Beaudry & Pinsonneault, 2005). Therefore, psychological distress is one factor impeding new technology adoption."

The authors emphasized “the importance of enjoyment for the Internet adoption process of mature consumers.” I have seen this to be true also. Friends and family who are in this age group of 40 or older, and who have adopted the Internet and technology, have done so because of the enjoyment it has brought them and the usefulness of information gathering.

The authors’ findings help explain why so many mature customers avoid technology and the Internet, and also provide suggestions to encourage use. I was interested to read these practical suggestions, particularly if they would be helpful to my acquaintances who have resisted technology adoption because of their fears or uncertainty. The authors proposed promoting the benefits of the Internet, and using the influence of other people who have positive views of technology. Also, ongoing support when dealing with computer and Internet access would be helpful to reduce stress.

I have a longstanding enjoyment of the learning and exploration possible with technology and the Internet. And I realize that this varies greatly from many others I know in the 40+ age bracket! These authors reinforced my casual “findings” from conversations with other mature consumers, and showed me that attitudes like these remain the same in many different parts of the world!

Suzi Brown | IT Manager
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal