Role of Place on Older Adults' Interest Towards Computer Classes, The
A study published in September 2000 by the Pew Charitable Trust reported that 87% of those over 65 and 59% of those between 50 and 64 do not currently have Internet access. Thus, despite reports of older adults as the fastest growing online demographic, a considerable percentage of this population is still off-line. More troubling though, is the Pew finding that of adults over 50 who aren?t yet online, fully 74% say they have no plans for going online.
If Internet access was purely for entertainment or an otherwise frivolous way of spending time, the fact that such a large number of adults are not interested wouldn?t be cause for concern. Yet for a variety of reasons (chiefly cost and ease of access), many governments, non-profit organizations, and corporations are moving valuable services and information online (e.g., www.firstgov.gov). Older adults who avoid computers and/or the Internet risk being shut out of these services and information, leading to the ?gray digital divide.?
Using Rogers? diffusion of innovations theory as its framework, this study looks at the role of ?place? in older adults? interest towards computer classes. Locating computer classes in environments that older adults are already comfortable with--and are likely to participate with their peers--is very compelling as a method of introducing older adults to the computer and thus increasing their likelihood of use.
For this study, AARP members in four local chapters were surveyed to gauge their interest in computer classes in general, as well as classes located within their place of worship and/or civic or membership organization. The study found that these locations were viewed positively by these older adults. In addition, an unanticipated finding suggested a strong impact due to the efforts of an opinion leader in one chapter.
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