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BRUNEL UNIVERSITY

 

 

BRUNEL UNIVERSITY

WEST LONDON

 

Masters in Enterprise System Architecture

Information Systems: Masters Dissertation

Academic Year 2010-2011

 

[Name of the Student]

 

Usability of Computers for the

Elderly Citizens

 

Presented to:

[Name of Professor]

 

[Name of University]

 [Paper’s Due Date]

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

CHAPTER 1 – PROJECT DEFINITION

1.1   Introduction….………………………………………………………………………… 4

1.2   Background of the Study……………………………………………………………. 5

1.3   Theoretical Framework ……………………………………………………………… 8

1.4   Objectives of the Study….…………………………………………………………… 9

1.5   Definition of the Problem..…………………………………………………………..10

1.6   Statement of the Hypothesis………………………………………………………. 11

1.7   Scopes and Limitations..…………………………………………………………… 12

1.8   Research Approach………………....………………………………………………. 13

1.9   Task Outline…………………………………………………………………………….14

1.10   Summary ………………………………………………………………………………16

CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1   Introduction …………………………………………………………………………… 18

2.2   Benefits from the Use of Internet ……………..………………………………….. 18

2.3   Benefits of Internet for the Elderly ………………………………………………. 20

2.4   Increase in the Number of Elderly Users of the Internet …………………….. 22

2.5   Difficulties in the Elderly Citizen’s Use of ICT…………………………………. 25

2.6   Summary ……………………………………………………………………………..  26

CHAPTER 3 – RESEACH METHODS AND DESIGN

3.1   Introduction …………………………………………………………………………. 27

3.2   Methodology ………………………………………………………………………… 27   

3.3   Research Technique ………………………………………………………………. 28

3.4   Research Design/Framework ……………………………………………………. 29

3.5   Summary …………………………………………………………………………….. 32

CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS AND MAIN DISCUSSION

4.1   Data Analysis and Interpretation ……………………………………………….. 33

4.2   Expected Solutions to the Problems ……………………………………………37

4.3   Customized Program/Software as Solution to the Problem……………….. 41

4.5   Summary……………………………………………………………………………,..44

CHAPTER 5:  CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.1  Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………. 45

5.2  Recommendation …………………………………………………………………. 47

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………..49

Appendix 1………………………………………………………………………………  53
CHAPTER 1 – PROJECT DEFINITION

1.1   Introduction

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in investigating the different issues, as well as concerns in the use of computer among the elderly citizens.   In the past decades, the rise of computer and its corresponding technologies has made individual and organisational activities, as well as bilateral and multilateral transactions between or among humans and institutions more efficient, faster, and largely convenient for users of such technology.  Since the invention of semiconductors and microchips some three decades ago, computers have far gone to evolve not only as a tool for executing various functions in the workplace, but also as a medium to accomplish specific tasks in the household level (Roy 2001). 

As computers became widespread nowadays, new modes of using them have been harnessed to fit the need of diverse users.  For example, using the Internet (short for ‘international network’), which is a global web of computer circuitry, distant users of computers can now easily ‘link’ or communicate with each other across homes, the office, or the world.  Also, using electronic mail, or E-mail, people from all walks of life simply can type a recipient’s computer address and send messages which are received instantly or even in an actual or ‘real time’ manner (La Morte and Lilly 2011).

As of March 2011, about 476.2 million people are active users of the Internet in Europe (see Table 1.1). This figure represents 22.6% of the total 2.1 billion active Internet users around the world (Internet World Stats, 2011b).  Active Facebook users in Europe reached 208.9 million, which is about 29% of the total Facebook users in the world.  Likewise, it was found that the United Kingdom ranks third among the countries in the European Union in the use of the Internet (Internet World Stats 2011b). 

Table 1.1

Internet Usage in Europe

EUROPE

Internet Users,
Latest Data

Penetration
(% Population)

Users
% World

Facebook
Subscribers

Europe

476,278,755

58.3 %

22.6 %

208,907,040

Rest of the World

1,634,487,055

26.7 %

77.4 %

501,821,680

TOTAL WORLD

2,110,765,810

30.5 %

100.0 %

710,728,720

 

Source: Cited in Internet World Stats through Miniwatts Marketing Group and available online at: <http://www.Internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm>

Notes:  1) Updated on June 30, 2011.

2) Population is based on data from the United States Census Bureau.

3) Usage numbers come from various qualified sources, but mainly from data published by Nielsen Online and the International Telegraph Union, and other trustworthy sources. Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

1.2   Background of the Study

The Internet through the use of computers indeed has become an indispensable tool of communication for all people of different categories in life.  Political leaders or business owners, males or females, working fathers or homemakers or even the young and the old alike, have now become frequent users of the Internet.  People are recognizing the benefit that they get from using the computer and more particularly the Internet such as: greater capacity for communication with political or business colleagues, relatives and friends as well as other members of a specific group or clan; greater possibility to explore opportunities, such as jobs (for the unemployed), sales (for businesses), advocacy (for cause groups); more opportunities to express oneself (i.e., through blogsites or social networking sites); and wider avenues to market  or sell products and services (i.e. ebay). 

Internet also facilitated higher degree of interaction between or among people through more actualized and uninterrupted forms of communication (i.e., online chat, e-conferences, etc.) compared to the traditional or olden ones (sending postcards or mails).  This is why, from the start of the millennium in 2002 up to the present, the number of Internet users has ballooned from 559 million individuals, comprising about 9.1% of the total world population, to about 2.110 billion individuals, comprising 30.4% of the total world population in 2011 (Internet World Stats 2011a).  This finding only shows how the number of people using computers and the Internet all over the world has indeed risen all throughout the years (see Figure 1.1 below).

Figure 1.1

Note: Cited from the Internet World Stats through Miniwatts Marketing Group and available online at:  <http://www.Internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm.>

It will also be noted that from among the increasing number users of the Internet, the senior citizens or the elderly are counted as among those fast ‘growing’ users.  In fact in 2009, while 65 and older were found to be only 10 percent of global Internet active users, their number is increasing by such a huge amount of over 55 percent in just a span of five year period – from 11.3 million active users in November 2004, this figure went up to 17.5 million in November of 2009 (Nielsen Wire 2009). 

Figure 1.2

Percentage of Elderly Internet Users Aged 65 and Above: 2004 & 2009

2004 (November)                                        2009 (November)

   

 

Of these elderly Internet users, it was also found out that the number of women in the said five-year period has outpaced the growth of men by six percentage points (Nielsen Wire 2009).  In 2010, it was reported that social networking use by seniors with ages 65 and above doubled (Madden 2010).

It was also worth noting that from 2004 to 2009, senior citizens were observed to have been spending more time on the Web, from about 52 hours per month in November 2004 to just over 58 hours in November 2009 – this was because they had been putting most of their time in such online activities as social networking, doing e-mail, sharing photos, checking out news, weather and other personal information on sports, personal health care, and leisure travel (Nielsen Wire 2009).

1.3   Theoretical Framework

Computers and corresponding technologies improve the quality of life of the elderly by helping them fight their emotional infirmities and loneliness and they continue to become active and creative members of their community and their society (Hunter Sayers and McDaid 2007; Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007; Dietolf 1973).  Through e-mails or chat facilities in the Internet, the elderly users are able to establish constant communication with loved ones, particularly those who have moved away.  Likewise, various social networking sites have become means by which the elderly are able to find new opportunities for doing charitable activities, making business and investments, or even creating new relationships (Daury 2010).

However, many elderly people still find a certain level of difficulty in using the computers.  In a study by Hunter, Sayers, and McDaid (2007), it was explained that compared to younger people, seniors are less comfortable with computers because they feel that they are less effective in handling computer, and this is largely attributed to their ageing process.  That is why there is a need to look on this issue and work on the necessary conditions to help the aged overcome these feeling of powerless and helplessness. 

Right institutions and systems as well as cognitive and skills formation can help in making technology an effective tool that will free the elderly from isolation and become socially productive members of the society (Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007).  Likewise, proper guidance through informal teaching or training can help in making the elderly quickly adapt to facilities being offered by modern technology such as the Internet (Naumanen andTukiainen 2007; Czaja and Lee 2007).

This study hence is geared at helping identify the conditions that seem to hinder the elderly from effectively using technology, i.e., the computer or the Internet, and in making themselves socially active, hence increasing their participation in social discussions as well as active undertakings relevant to the building of their own respective communities or societies.

1.4   Objectives of the Study

This study is primarily intended to identify the conditions that tend to hinder the elderly from effectively using the computer and the Internet, for their personal growth and for them to become productive and creative members of their community or society.  As a result of identifying these conditions, the study seeks to investigate at the same time the possible solutions to these concerns.  The appropriate use of technology not only can help the elderly overcome their own infirmities, their loneliness and depressions, but also in the process can facilitate the means, by which they will be able to contribute to the building of a meaningful and progressive society (Hunter, Sayers, and McDaid 2007; Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007; Dietolf 1973).

This study also has twin end-objectives which are: one, to help the elderly fight negative emotions such as loneliness as well depression in their current condition; and two, to make them effective participants in community building. Aside from the more practical objective of promoting personal growth through more participative and socially acquainted lifestyle among seniors and making them productive members of the society through the use of modern technology, this paper is also anchored on a concept-bound goal which is to build insights and specific literature that can contribute to the existing studies about such topic on the usability of technology on the part of the elderly.  This author believes that the current discussions surrounding the issue on the usability of modern technology by the elderly should be put forward, along with the identification of problems, as well as corresponding solutions.

1.5   Definition of the Problem

There are two general problems in this study and these are: 

1) What are the conditions that hinder the proper use of technology by the elderly in the United Kingdom so that they can become productive citizens of their respective communities or societies; and

2) How can these conditions be remedied? 

In the first problem, the sub-problems will be:

1) What problems are being encountered by healthy but ageing UK citizens living with their adult children, in the use of computers and the Internet;

2) What are the problems being encountered by sickly or disabled seniors in the UK living with their adult children, in using the computers and the Internet?;

3) What are the problems being encountered in the use of computers and the Internet, by healthy seniors living in the homes for the aged; and

4) What are the problems being encountered in the use of computers and the Internet, by UK seniors who are sickly and disabled.

In investigating answers to these questions, it is expected that this study’s principal objective of finding organisational as well as systemic solutions, including cognitive and formative approaches, to problems that are encountered by seniors in using computers can be properly addressed. 

On the one hand, organisational or systemic solutions involve conditions that affect those that are external to the elderly, i.e. their situational conditions and the computer facilities that are available to them.  On the other hand, cognitive and formative solutions include those that have to do with their interest, attitudes, knowledge and skills in the use of the computer and the Internet.

1.6   Statement of the Hypothesis

The importance of promoting effective use of modern technologies, particularly the computer and the Internet among the elderly is well documented in various literatures (Daury 2010; Hunter, Sayers, and McDaid 2007; Naumanen and Tukiainen, 2007; Dietolf 1973; Czaja and Lee 2007).  At the same time, the crucial role of seniors in community building cannot simply be overlooked, given that the elderly is a group of people with very heterogeneous physical and cognitive abilities (Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007).  Therefore, conditions that may possibly impede this effective use of technology by the elderly for their personal and societal growth should be prevented.

This paper anchors itself on the assumption that such obstacles to the proper use of modern technology by the elderly lie on factors that are either internal or external to the elderly themselves.  Internally, it is believed that to a certain degree as claimed by some authors also, the elderly are less confident about their capacity to adopt with modern technology and hence to use computers and the present Internet facility (see for instance Hunter, Sayers and McDaid 2007). 

Externally, it is also believed that systems and facilities employed in the use of computer and the Internet can be tailor-fitted to the needs of the elderly.  While the seniors can be trained to be ‘more interested or willing’ to use computer and corresponding technologies, some level of customization must be done on the facilities or equipment used for such technologies.  For instance weakened visual acuity is one of the common age-related problems, and this can be addressed by adjusting the font size, icon display, and menu descriptions (Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007).

1.7   Scopes and Limitations

This paper includes an investigation on the problems surrounding the usability of technology, particularly the computer and the Internet, by the elderly.  Such problems, which are in turn considered the main concerns to be addressed in this study, include both internal and external factors hindering the proper use of computer and the Internet by the elderly.  In trying to resolve these concerns, this paper will depend on both organisational and systemic solutions as well as cognitive and skills formative approaches to the problems. 

Organisational and systemic solutions include the facilities, i.e., the computer peripherals, software and other gadgets that are employed in the use of modern technologies that describe the conditions the elderly faced in using the computer and the Internet.  Cognitive and skills formative solutions include both pedagogical approaches in facilitating the use of modern technologies by the elderly. 

This paper is limited to the study of the elderly in the United Kingdom.  The technology is also limited to computer and Internet related based technologies, which are main facilities of modern technology, making great impact on the society today (Czaja and Lee 2007; Hunter, Sayers, and McDaid 2007).  The Internet related technologies referred to in this study exclude those that have to do with games. 

As for the period covered in this study, this will include both the present (for primary data, i.e., those derived from interview and survey) and past (secondary data, which shall come from database agencies).  The results of survey are expected to provide the foundations for the arguments and claims of this study particularly on conditions that tend to impede the effective use of the computer and the Internet on the pat of the elderly.  In turn, from both the primary and secondary data, the answers to the problems as well as the solutions to such problems shall be based in this study.

1.8   Research Approach

This research follows two-prong approach in dealing to address the main issues of the problems.  It is intended both to: 1) integrate and critically discuss a significant body of literature within a specified topic or area, thereby creating a sort of meta-analysis to current literature; and 2) come up with quantitative data to be analyzed and which will form the very crucial arguments for the paper.

Both manner of dealing the subject matter in this study are expected to bring into resolution the problems being undertaken in the investigation, i.e., particularly the effective usability of technologies for the elderly and the ways by which usability of technologies can be facilitated so that elderly can become productive and meaningful members of their respective communities.  In the process of resolving the problems specific proposals or recommended solutions, such as those that have to do with customizations and adjustments in the design of current technologies being used shall be formulated also. 

1.9   Task Outline

            This study seeks to achieve its objectives through the following task outlines:

Table 1.2

Objectives and Tasks in the Study

OBJECTIVES

TASKS

 

1. To identify conditions that tend to hinder the elderly from effectively using the computer and the Internet for them to become productive and creative members of their community.

1.1 Gather literature and information related to the topic or subject matter undertaken in this study.

1.2  Concretise the topic and define the problem/s in order to gather all the materials that are needed in the process of investigating the answer/s to such problem/s

1.3 Conduct interview and survey to a sample of elderly in the UK to see which among their concerns tend to converge into specific problems in the use of the computer and the Internet.

2.  To investigate possible solutions to these concerns.

2.1 Analyse data on the findings and try to gather all the relevant support to the claims and arguments in the study.

 

2.2 Analyse materials including the literature, information, interview and survey materials gathered and formed throughout the investigation and find out concrete solutions for possible concerns.

2.3 Plan, design, and develop a systemic solution to problems and concerns.

3. To help the elderly fight negative emotions, i.e., loneliness and depression, pessimistic attitude in learning as well as lack of confidence in the use of modern technologies.

3.1  Analyse materials and formulate informal guidance and training programs to re-orient the thinking of the elderly in the proper use of modern technologies.

3.2 Formulate assessment or evaluation modules in for testing the effectiveness of the program.

4. To make the elderly effective participants in community building.

4.1 Formulate programs that can help elderly become effective participants in community building through the use of modern technologies particularly the computer and the Internet.

4.3 Create online groups in which elderly could participate and create teaching modules that can be delivered and read by the elderly members

4.3 Formulate assessment or evaluation modules in for testing the effectiveness of the program.

5. To build insights and models that can contribute to the existing studies on the usability of technology by the elderly.

5.1 Concretise the arguments of the paper in the conclusion and recommendation parts to form a well-documented and strongly argued paper worthy of being considered a scholarly investigation on the subject matter being tackled.

 

1.10   Summary

This first chapter of the paper has delineated the definition of the project, including the main problems that are going to be tackled and investigated, as well as their corresponding solutions.  It has also discussed the objectives of the study as well as the reason why such study will be relevant.  The objectives of the study highlight the necessity of undertaking the research and the importance of putting attention to how solutions can be arrived given the problems that are going to be identified in this study.

The planned tasks were also mentioned which are necessary in order effectively achieve these objectives.  Such tasks include not only how the different objectives in the study are going to be achieved in the course of the research but also at a certain degree the procedure that will be undertaken at each point of trying to obtain objective in the study.  The scopes and limitations of the study were also defined so as to specify the boundaries of the analysis and investigation.  The next chapter will deal with the discussion on related literatures and other works pertinent to this study on the usability of computers for the elderly.


CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1   Introduction

            Since this study intends to investigate the issues surrounding the usability of technologies such as the computer and the Internet on the part of the elderly, it is necessary to tackle related literature on the benefits that could be derived from the computer, particularly to the elderly; the difficulties encountered by them in the use of the computer and the Internet, as well as needed solutions to such difficulties or problems. It is also important to discuss about how number of users of the Internet has increased all over the years.  The computer and the Internet have become indispensable to many including to the elderly members of the society.  And yet a number of elderly people still find some difficulties in their use.  By exploring on these difficulties encountered by elderly in the use of the compute and the Internet, this study aims to present in the succeeding chapters how all these could  be addressed properly.  

2.2   Benefits from the Use of Internet

The use of technologies such as the computer and the Internet has brought different kinds of benefits to different kinds of people and organisations at all levels and conditions in life.  At the individual level, Internet and computers have been an effective source of information and effective means of communication.  Technically, information and communication are possible through the Internet when these are transmitted through characters or formats and hence language also called as Asynchronous JavaScript and XML or AJAX and passing through the international network (Parker 2009). 

The Internet hence, which most of the time is also called ‘information highway’, has been source of information, from business market insights to political opinions, to job offers to product prices, and so on and so forth.  Almost everything and any information that is needed to live one’s life to the fullest can be sourced now from the Internet.  The Internet has indeed become rich source of knowledge and ideas for individuals of all walks in life (Yablon and Katz 2011).

Also, the Internet has become an effective medium of communication.  The Internet not only has provided faster (real time) way of communicating between and among people but also has made this mode of communication innovative and adaptive to the needs of people.  It has also been an effective means by which groups of people or organisations are able to communicate their main intentions particularly their missions and visions.

This is why, at the organisational level, the emergence of computer technology has also led to many businesses’ growth and success. As Tayeb (2000) had indicated, companies which possess new technologies are more likely to succeed in the marketplace, because technologies have helped them boost their sales and productivity, while bringing about higher level of competitiveness.  

For instance, web-based based facility such as e-commerce (i.e., e*networks or Amazon.com), are now used by multinational businesses, in enhancing marketing, promoting, selling, and trading commodities in a global manner.   In this case, the Internet has also enhanced supply-chain and corresponding links between suppliers, distributors and end-users, thus allowing business to obtain important market information on price signals, level of competition in the industry as well as potential buyers of products and services.  Although, in principle, all these information will depend on the ability of the users to find it, which would in turn require knowing which particular sites are needed for use in research or investigation or even meta-analysis – this is worth mentioning particularly in the case of gathering information about consumer insights (Fleisher and Blenkhorn 2003).

The Internet has also been particularly useful in: 1) promoting long-term relationships with suppliers; 2) on-time delivery of products to distributors, suppliers and consumers; and 3) monitoring and maintenance of inventory for suppliers and consumers – all of which are intended to improve and enhance multinational business performance (Allen et al. 2007).

2.3   Benefits of Internet for the Elderly

The benefits that specifically the elderly derive from the Internet are many.  One for instance is their ability to cope up with isolation and loneliness.  In the United Kingdom (UK), many of the elderly people technically comprise those with age 65 and above, this is if one is to follow the thinking that old age is equated to compulsory retirement age.  Compulsory retirement age in UK is 65 years old, although there are recent plans to scrap this ruling (Osborne 2009). 

Since the Internet is an effective means to link and communicate with other people, elderly can use this means to link with their friends, relatives, and loved ones.  Daury (2010) indicated that social networking sites, such as WAYN, Facebook, Eons, Taltopia, aNobii, Ravelry, The Hospitality Club, Meet the Boss, not only allow the elderly to be able to combat loneliness and isolation through constant communication with loved ones, but also give them new opportunities for doing charitable activities, undertake market services, as well as establish new relationships. 

The Internet is also an effective source of information for the elderly, particularly, if the elderly people are engaged in a business, which requires information on the market preferences, demands, prices and competition, or in political or advocacy groups, which demands updated information on news and relevant social happenings.  The seniors also take advantage of meeting creating new acquaintances – a thing they needed most particularly when they are away from their family or they lost loved ones (Philbeck 2011). Experts however issued warning on the vulnerabilities of the seniors to scams, identity theft and other wrongdoings in the Internet since the elderly people are known for being so trustworthy (Daury 2010).

Shapiro (1995) indicated that computer and the Internet are treated not only as rising hobby of the elderly people but also therapeutic means to promote their physical and emotional well-being.  Accordingly, the therapeutic uses of computers can be verified by the fact that decline in the intellectual capacity of individual is part of the natural process of aging but could very well be slowed (and sometimes counteracted) particularly when seniors become involved as active users of technology. The simple knowing that someone learns something new on the computer is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes about in the process of bringing the human mind a sense of growth and well-being (Shapiro 1995).

Internet also creates an alert mind particularly on the part of the elderly people (Philbeck 2011).  Not only the therapeutic issues are worth-highlighting as means to promote physical and emotional well-being of the seniors, but also the fact that the Internet is also a good source of information about health.  Survey showed that elderly users of the Internet are able to take advantage of getting information from their friend or from the Internet itself about Medicare, social security matters, online health questions from a medical doctor, as well as health and fitness tips and advice that they normally apply on their own selves (Nielsen Wire 2009; Philbeck 2011).

2.4   Increase in the Number of Elderly Users of the Internet

As early as 1994 the rise in the use of the computer by the elderly had been evident.  In the United States that year, the percentage of the total number of adults aged 55 to 75 using computers had increased by 43% from the previous period – this is based on a survey by national non-profit organisation SeniorNet (Philbeck 2011).  The Internet indeed had made possible faster and more convenient interaction between or among people through more actualized and uninterrupted tools for communication (i.e., online chat, e-conferences, etc.).  And senior citizens or the elderly are counted as among those fast ‘growing’ users. 

Aside from these considerations, many seniors nowadays recognize that computers are much more exciting than watching television (TV) because they involve a certain level of interaction with other individuals.  Also computers and corresponding technologies are much cheaper because they are sold in bundle with other services such as TV and mobile phone services (Leonard 2010).

It is in here that the elderly people have started overcoming their supposed ‘technophobia’ as some of them even are taking online classes to become computer literate or completing course in some colleges and universities (Lietz 2011; Philbeck 2011).   Gone were the days when seniors were considered technophobic, an argument that is rooted from the 1980 survey indicating that senior managers of big corporations avoided computers, and delegated clerical tasks to their subordinates, such as word document processing, and answering emails (Philbeck 2011). 

Accordingly, the emergence of new generation of computers and corresponding peripherals and software, with diverse modalities and functions suited to the needs of the users, has persuaded the elderly people to adopt and use such technologies.  New programs, i.e., Netscape and Microsoft, and devices, i.e., Braille keyboards, voice recognition, enlarged monitors, as well as Lean and Zoom – which is a software that utilizes the computer’s camera to maximize or enlarge type when the user moves closer to the computer’s screen – are now easy to understand and use, facilitating the use of computer (Philbeck 2011; Leonard 2010). 

Also, particularly through interactive communication or expressive writing, the Internet also helps the elderly people overcome some of the emotional and physical infirmities or disabilities that they may have been experiencing (Baikie and Wilhelm 2011; Philbeck 2011).  Baikie and Wilhelm (2011) indicated that expressive writing such as those done for instance in social networking sites or blog sites result in long-term positive physical outcomes on blood pressure, lung and liver functions, and immune system as well as positive psychological outcomes on cognitive integration and reduction of stress.  Expressive writing was also found to reduce the effect of traumatic experiences and to provide a means by which kept emotions can be channeled through. (Baikie and Wilhelm 2011)  That is why in recent years, elderly people’s usage of computer and the Internet has grown in astronomical rates, compared with other age groups (Philbeck 2011).

In the United States, in 2009, (see Table 2-1) more elderly people have gone online in the Internet because of the following reasons in ranked order: writing personal e-mails, viewing or printing maps, checking weather, and so on and so forth (Nielsen Wire 2009).  Again this goes to show how senior people have now actively participated in the use of modern technologies.  This also goes to show how the elderly have been removed from so-called state of social exclusion and instead put back to a more desirable condition of social inclusion. 

Table 2-1

 Top 10 Online Activities Performed

RANK

Profile Point: Internet Activities

Audience Composition Percent

1

Personal E-mail

88.6

2

Viewed or Printed Maps Online

68.6

3

Checked Weather Online

60.1

4

Paid/Viewed Bills Online

51.2

5

View/Posted Photos Online

50.1

6

Read General/Political News

49.2

7

Checked Personal Health Care Info

47.3

8

Planned Leisure Travel Trip Online

39

9

Searched Recipes/Meal Planning Suggestions

38.4

10

Read Business/Finance News

37.8

Source: Cited from The Nielsen Company, 2009 Release and available online at :

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/six-million-more-seniors-using-the-web-than-five-years-ago/

 

In 2005, Great Britain was third among the highest number of elderly Internet users compared to other first world countries as Canada, Germany, United States, France Poland and Russia.  Again, this finding only shows how elderly people in first world countries have started to become really interested in using technologies as they have readily recognized the benefits of their use.  This is due to the same benefits of using the computer and Internet as were discussed above.

Table 2 -2

Internet Users in First World Countries

Internet Users in 2005

18-29

30-49

50-64

65+

 

%

%

%

%

Canada

91

83

68

31

Germany

85

79

53

16

United States

81

83

68

32

Great Britain

89

84

67

24

France

92

66

52

12

Poland

70

44

22

4

Russia

32

18

3

1

Source: Cited from OASIS Ontologies and available online at: http://www.oasis-project.eu/index.php/lang-en/component/content/24?task=view&cat=14

2.5   Difficulties in the Elderly Citizen’s Use of ICT

Although in general the difficulties in the elderly citizens’ usability of the computer and similar technology can be rooted from the very ageing process that they are experiencing it is worth mentioning that most of these are also related to their weakening senses (Hunter, Sayers, and McDaid 2007).  Slowing cognitive and reasoning capacity, weakened visual acuity, deteriorating working memory and reduced spatial capabilities all make adoption and usage of new technologies such as the computer and the Internet a difficult task for the elderly people (Naumanen and Tukiainen 2007). 

It has been proposed that specific modalities or customization in computer set up must be introduced so as to accommodate the specific difficulties on the part of the elderly users of the computer and the Internet.  For instance, the use of bigger icons in toolbar; breaking up the instruction in smaller set up; customization of desktop, letter or font sizes; teaching the basics skills in computing to the elderly not only improve their ability to adopt with the new technologies but also eliminate any technophobic tendencies that they may have given new technologies.

2.6   Summary

            This chapter has explored on various literatures that relate to the topic on the problems or concerns encountered by the elderly people in the use of modern technologies, i.e., the computer and the Internet.  Particularly, since this study is about how use of these technologies affects in one way or the other the seniors, it has gathered materials about this subject matter, particularly the benefits these technologies can bring about and the difficulties in adopting or using them on the part of the elderly people.  In going about the literatures considered in this chapter, it is hoped that a more concrete conceptual framework is formed to effectively undertake, tackle and investigate the topic of usability of computer and Internet on the part of the elderly people and to find answers to the problems posed in this research.


CHAPTER 3 – RESEACH METHODS AND DESIGN

3.1   Introduction

            In dealing with the subject on the usability of computer and Internet-related facilities, except games, among the elderly, this shall be done employing specific research methods.  Here, such methods will be discussed, including the technique and design for such methods.

3.2   Methodology  

The methodology in the study will be both a combination of analytical, descriptive constructive and qualitative in nature.  Such combination of research methods helps in utilizing the more appropriate and hence more pragmatic methods of conducting this study (Thomas, Nelson, and Silverman 2011).  While analytical method aims at evaluating all available information about the topic of this research, descriptive method aims at describing the current conditions that surround the problems in the study through the use of specific techniques, while at the same time identifies the problems in consonance with the constructive method (Soriyan, Mursu, Akinde, and Korpela 2001; Thomas, Nelson, and Silverman 2011). 

Analytical and descriptive analyses likewise allow elaborative discussions on the arguments and answers to the main problems in this study.  Such arguments and answers to the main problems are anchored on literature and previous models on the subject matter being tackled in this study. 

The qualitative method for its part follows a more scientific approach to problem solving by establishing a hypothesis at the beginning of the study and developing it as the discussion moves on.  Through qualitative method, this study hence will use data from secondary sources such as database agencies, figures from data generating organisations, and relevant data from specialized organisations.

Figures from the qualitative discussion will come from survey, through descriptive technique of distributing questionnaires to specific groups of elderly.  The survey however will be the main basis for determining the answers to the problems as discussed in the first section of this paper.  In turn, the answers to the problems will present the very conditions that tend to hinder the elderly from effectively using the computer and the Internet for their personal growth and to that of the community where they belong.  From these conditions then, the solutions to the concerns shall be formulated.

3.3   Research Technique

For the descriptive portion of the research, the technique is one of an exposition by identifying the sources and hence corresponding answers to the problems in the study.  Again this is accordance with the constructive method, which is one of the methods used in the study.  The primary technique in the analysis of the data shall be ranking and percentile analyses as well as measures of central tendencies.  Using such techniques, the arguments and claims in this study are expected to be effectively tackled and addressed.

The analysis of the issue surrounding the usability of computer and Internet-related facilities, except games, among the elderly shall be done using primarily the survey, through the interview method.  A sample of 50 elderly people shall be chosen from specific groups of elderly and shall be used in the investigation.   This is to separate specific conditions, which the elderly people are facing. 

3.4   Research Design/Framework

In conducting the survey, the sample of elderly included in the study shall be divided into four groups, from which the corresponding concerns and questions on the use of the computer and the Internet shall be investigated. The sample groups are arrived at by first separating elderly people from those who live with their adult children and those who live in the home of the aged.  This is done because more and more adults aged 35 to 64, particularly in the North England and London, are opting to have their parents living with them. 

Presently in UK, there are about 858,000 households with one or both parents living under the same roof as their grown-up children as this is a result of rising council tax and foreseen increase in home maintenance costs (Mabels Mature 2004). The elderly people who are included in the sample are residents of the Untied Kingdom and had requested anonymity to protect their own interest and welfare.  This is an ethical consideration in this research.

The two groups namely, elderly who live with their adult children and those who live in the home of the aged, are further subdivided into those who are healthy but ageing and those who are sickly and disabled (or with infirmities).  In sum, there will four groups of the elderly on whom the survey shall be conducted and to whom the questionnaires will be distributed.  These groups are:

1. Healthy but ageing UK senior citizens who are living with their adult children.

2.  Sickly or disabled UK seniors who are living with their adult children.

3. Healthy but ageing UK senior citizens living in the homes for the aged.

4.  Sickly and disabled UK seniors living in the homes for the aged.

The survey questionnaires shall then be distributed among the 50 seniors that will be included as sample from each group.  Te design of the survey and the procedure on how it will be conducted is show in Figure 3.1 below:

 

 

Figure 3.1

Research Design/Framework

Organisational/

Systemic

 
 


 

Conditions that Hinder the Elderly from Effectively Using Technology (Computer and the Internet)

 

Q

UESTIONNAIRES

 
           

SURVEY

 
 

 

 


3rd Group of Elderly Sample

 
`

Cognitive and Skills Formative

 
 

 

 

 


Based on specific findings for each of these groups, solutions to the concerns shall be formulated.  Solutions shall in turn either organisational (systemic) or cognitive and skills formative.  For organisational or systemic approach to solving problems, this study will look on the various conditions that affect the effective usability of computer and the Internet, and treat them as if they are parts or elements of the whole system of the whole phenomenon on the use of the modern technologies by the elderly.   Systems approach will basically look on factors that are externally faced by the elderly who are under consideration in this study. 

Systems approach involves developing the ability to see the parts and the whole and trying to see and understand how they are related (Smith and Kinard 2001).  When necessary, systems approach requires integrating multiple points of view and this entails obtaining refining, understand and testing what is observed (Smith and Kinard 2001).  To achieve the solution to the problems based on this approach, a customized computer program or software that can facilitate the use by the elderly of computer and Internet shall be designed and developed.  The program, which will be in-stored in a Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), can be used easily when slid to a DVD ROM of the computer.  Such program or software not only will facilitate the elderly people’s easy use of the computer and the Internet to keep in touch with their friends and relatives but will also raise their quality of life by being more dynamic and participative in online social acquaintances.

For cognitive and skills formative approaches, these involve pedagogical solutions to the problem on the usability of the computer and Internet for the elderly.  Such solutions follow so-called instructional design approach in which defined needs and goals are achieved through planning, design, and development phases in lock-step order (Wilson, Jonassen, and Cole 1993).   Such approaches involve formulating plans on how to enhance and improve the interest, attitude, understanding and skills of the elderly in the use of the computer and the Internet.  Such approaches also involve improving the teaching ambience such as the a facilities or materials used in teaching and the way these are delivered to the learner recipients who are in this case the elderly seeking to improve their knowledge and skills in the use of the computer and the Internet.

3.5   Summary

This chapter has discussed the methods that will be used in conducting the investigation and analysis for this research.  With the use of combination of methods such as analytical, descriptive, constructive and qualitative methods, this paper aims to arrive at the issues, claims and arguments on the problems as identified in the first chapter of this paper.  Through the survey method particularly, the problems as defined in the first chapter will be identified, analyzed and discussed.  In turn, solutions to such problems are also seen to be formulated in the course for the research.  Solutions involve both those that are intended to address the conditions that are external and internal to the seniors – preventing them from effectively using the computer and the Internet for their personal and societal growth.  Internal conditions include the attitude as well as knowledge and skills by the seniors in the use of the computer and the Internet.  External conditions include the equipment used by the elderly in utilizing the technologies.


CHAPTER 4

DATA ANALYSIS AND MAIN DISCUSSION

4.1 Data Analysis and Interpretation

Following the survey made with elderly people of different specific sample groups (based on situational settings), the following findings in response to specific questions in the interview were recorded as shown Table 4.1 below: 

Table 4.1

Results of the Survey through Questionnaires with Elderly People* Living or Not in the Home of the Aged** and their Use of Computer and the Internet

 

Situational Groups***

Group 1

(Healthy but ageing UK senior citizens who are living with their adult children)

Group 2

(Sickly or disabled UK seniors who are living with their adult children)

Group 3

(Healthy but ageing UK senior citizens living in the homes for the aged)

Group 4

(Sickly and disabled UK seniors living in the homes for the aged)

1. Do you use the computer and the Internet?

43/50

34/50

31/50

29/50   

2.  How often do you use the computer and the Internet?

(12 = every day)

(11 = once a week - once every 2 weeks)

(6 = Once every 2 weeks – Once every 3 weeks)

(14 = Rarely)

 

(17 = every day)

(7 = once a week - once every 2 weeks)

(6 = Once every 2 weeks – Once every 3 weeks)

(4 = Rarely)

(7 = every day)

(4 = once a week - once every 2 weeks)

(8 = Once every 2 weeks – Once every 3 weeks)

(12 = Rarely)

(8 = every day)

(7 = once a week - once every 2 weeks)

(4 = Once every 2 weeks – Once every 3 weeks)

(14 = Rarely)

3. What do you think are your reasons why you rarely use or do not use the computer and the Internet?

(# of those who rarely use or do not use the Internet = 24)

 

1.  Little skills for it. (24/ 24)

 

2. Fear of not having the right skills.

(22/24)

 

3. Lack of time for it due to other preoccupations.

(22/24)

 

4. No skills for it.

(17/24)

 

5. Children using the computer most of the time.

(16/24)

 

6. No computer facility.

(7/24)

 

 

7. Not interested.

(4/24)

(# of those who rarely use or do not use the Internet = 20)

 

 

1.  Little skills for it. (19/ 20)

 

2. Having hard time reading the letters.

(17/20)

 

3. Very complicated commands.

(17/20)

 

4 No time for it.

(16/20)

 

 

5. No computer facility.

(5/20)

 

 

6. Not interested.

(2/20)

(# of those who rarely use or do not use the Internet = 31)

 

1. No skills for it.

(31/31)

 

2. Limited skills for it.

(29/31)

 

3. Having hard time reading the letters.

(14/31)

 

4. Having hard time recognizing figures.

(12/31)

 

5. Not interested.

(4/31)

 

 

(# of those who rarely use or do not use the Internet = 34)

 

1.  Not interested. (34/34)

 

2. Having hard time reading letters.

(28/34)

 

3. Having hard time recognizing figures.

(26/34)

 

4. Having difficulty in moving hand.

(21/34)

 

 

*Elderly people who are residents of the Untied Kingdom, 55 and above (including those who retired early because in many literature, there is no clear-cut definition for old age except the retirement age although some elderly still choose to retire before this age) and had requested anonymity to protect their own interest and welfare.  This is an ethical consideration in this research.

**Home for the Aged is located in the United Kingdom.  Institutions from which survey sample were chosen, requested anonymity to protect their interest and welfare.

****Situational group is based on whether elderly people in the survey are either healthy or not, or living with their adult children or not.

 

In the case of the first group of elderly who are healthy and living with their adult children, majority of them (43 out of 50 respondents) were found to use computers.  Twelve of these users have access to computers daily while 14 use it rarely. It is also obvious that they would not hesitate using the computer and the Internet, except that most of them think that they have little skills for such activity (24 of those who rarely use or do not use the computer and the Internet).  This is their first concern and this is in consonance with the second which is their fear of not having the right skills for using modern technologies.

Twenty-two of those who rarely use or do not use the computer and the Internet fear using the computer and the Internet.  This is however common among elderly in general, whereby compared to younger people, they are less comfortable with computers and similar technologies, of whose use they feel less efficacy and control because of their wider experience, which in most cases are causes of their anxiety to learn (Hunters, Sayers, and McDaid 2007).  Sometimes because of their many insights and experiences, seniors tend to have greater tendency of avoiding being at the receiving end of learning especially by the ‘younger generation’.  Hence, determining the proper way of teaching them is crucial in provoking their interest to learn the use of the computer and the Internet.

The third topmost concern is their lack of time for it (22 of those who rarely use or do not use the computer and the Internet were found to have this problem).  Some people particularly those living with their children are generally much more inclined to engage themselves in physical activities or exercises such as walking or other recreational activities rather than using the computer and the Internet particularly to combat cognitive impairment (Seniorjournal.com 2010).  Seniors sometimes enjoy doing physical workout particularly those who are used to it when they were still young.

For the second group of elderly who are sickly or with disabilities and living with their adult children, more than half of the 50 sample senior individuals use computers.  Seven elderly in this group have access to computers daily. Seventeen of the respondents have hard time reading the letters in the computer while another seventeen found that computers have very complicated commands. The rest of the elderly respondents have no computer, or either they are not interested to learn using the technology or they have no time for it.

For the third group of elderly who live in the home of the aged and are physical well, 31 out of the 50 respondents were observed to use computers.  However, only few (7 of them) use computer and the Internet daily, and many would readily admit that they rarely used such technologies (12 elderly in the sample).  The main problems for the elderly in this group are basically the lack of skill or not skill in using the computer and the Internet.  Some have hard time reading the letters and figures in the computer, while the rest are simply not interested.

For the fourth group, less number of elderly use computer, only a little over half (29 of them) of the 50 sample senior individuals included in the survey.   Many of the elderly respondents admitted that they have no time for using the computer and the Internet.  Likewise, majority of the respondents confirmed that they are having hard time recognizing figures and even controlling the mouse for computers

 

 

In arriving at the answers to the questions on this study, it is expected that the paper’s principal objective of finding organisational or systemic solutions and cognitive and skills formative solutions to such concerns being encountered by seniors in using the computer and the Internet, is being addressed.

4.2   Expected Solutions to the Problems

The solutions to the problems and hence concerns that the elderly are facing in their use of the computer and the Internet involve approaches that both tend to deal and manage the conditions external and internal to the seniors.  Systemic approaches are meant to adjust conditions external to the elderly.  Such conditions include the computer equipment, peripherals and software that the elderly are using.

Cognitive and skills formative solutions include approaches meant to educate and improve the skills of the elderly in their use of the computer and the Internet.  Table 4.2 below shows the most common problems or concerns faced by the elderly in each of the four sample groups, in the use of the computer and the Internet.  These common problems and concerns are the ones that can be found if one is to list down all the first three concerns in each of the sample groups;

Table 4.2

Common Problems/Concerns Encountered by Elderly People in the Usability of the Computer and the Internet

 

Common Problems/Concerns

Expected Solutions

Systemic

Cognitive and Skills

Formative

1.  Little, Limited or No Skills in the Use of the Computer and the Internet

 

 

 

-Devote Time to Determine in What Particular Aspect in the Use  of Computer, Do the Seniors Have Problems.

 

-Devote a Time for Teaching or Improving the Skills of the Elderly in the Use of the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living of a Hired Mentor for Those Living in the Home for the Aged.

 

-Or, Develop a Tutoring or Training Program to Improve the Knowledge and Skills of the Seniors in Their Use of Computer and the Internet.

 

-Regularly Distribute Modules or Reading or Listening Materials to the Elderly to Develop their Interest, Knowledge and Skills in the Use of the Computer and the Internet.

 

2. Fear of Not Having the Right Skills in the Use of the Computer and the Internet.

 

 

 

-Devote a Time for Teaching or Improving the Skills of the Elderly in the Use of the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living of a Hired Mentor for Those Living in the Home for the Aged.

 

-Or, Develop a Tutoring or Training Program to Improve the Knowledge and Skills of the Seniors in Their Use of Computer and the Internet.

 

-Regularly Distribute Modules or Reading or Listening Materials to the Elderly to Develop their Interest, Knowledge and Skills in the Use of the Computer and the Internet.

 

3. Lack of Time in Using the Computer and the Internet Due to Other Preoccupations.

 

 

 

-Explain the Benefits that Can Be Derived from Using the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living through Usual Conversation or the Care Giver for Those Living in the Home of the Aged)

 

-Create a teaching room conducive for learning.

 

-Devote a Time for Teaching or Improving the Skills of the Elderly in the Use of the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living of a Hired Mentor for Those Living in the Home for the Aged.

 

-Or, Develop a Tutoring or Training Program to Improve the Knowledge and Skills of the Seniors in Their Use of Computer and the Internet.

 

-Regularly Distribute Modules or Reading or Listening Materials to the Elderly to Develop their Interest, Knowledge and Skills in the Use of the Computer and the Internet.

 

-Assess and Monitor the Performance of the Elderly Learners and the progress.

 

4. Having hard Time Reading the Letters, Recognizing Figures and Following Complicated Commands.

 

 

-Design or Customize a Computer Program Software that Will Address the Elderly People’s Problems in Recognizing, Reading, Hearing, and Controlling Computer Related Functions. (A Customized Program/Software is Described Below)

 

 

 

5. Not Interested.

 

 

-For Elderly Living  with their Adult Children, Provide a Computer Room Conducive for Effective Usability of Computer and the Internet

 

-For Elderly Living in the Home of the Aged, Provide a Computer Room Conducive for Proper Use (i.e., Right Scheduling) of Computer and the Internet

 

-Design a Computer Program/Software that Will Facilitate the Use of the Computer and the Internet for the Aged

 

-Explain the Benefits that Can Be Derived from Using the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living through Usual Conversation or the Care Giver for Those Living in the Home of the Aged)

 

-Devote a Time for Teaching or Improving the Skills of the Elderly in the Use of the Computer and the Internet (This May be Done by the Adult Children with Whom the Elderly is Living of a Hired Mentor for Those Living in the Home for the Aged.

 

 

It is observed in Table 4.2 that the most common problems or concerns encountered by the elderly, whether they are living with their adult children or in the Home for the Aged, in the usability of the computer and the Internet, usually are those that concern most their knowledge and skills (having limited or less or having nothing of these), attitude (fear of not having the right skills, lack of interest, having other things to do than the computer and the Internet), and the physical equipment that they are using (the computer which offers very unrecognizable letters, figures  and complicated  commands or the software in it to access the Internet).  Therefore as it was indicated above, expected solutions involve adjusting or improving external and internal conditions to the seniors and such would require both systemic and cognitive as well as skills formative solutions. 

To improve the elderly people’s knowledge and skills, foreseen formative solutions include devoting time to determining which specific aspects of computer use do senior have skills problem.  Formative solutions also involve devoting time for teaching or improving the skills of the elderly through usual conversation with them (in the case of seniors living with their adult children) or hiring a tutor/mentor to assist them in their knowledge and learning of the computer and the Internet.   In a more formalized manner, this could be done through formal tutoring or training or even workshops to further improve their knowledge and skills.  It is also important to regularly supply them with materials such as modules or any materials that would raise their interest, knowledge and skills in the use of the computer and the Internet.

To change seniors’ attitude towards a more positive (without fear of not having the right skills) and more enthusiastic (and not lacking interest) outlook in the use of the computer and the Internet, the same formative solutions, such as providing training, mentoring and securing relevant materials can also be applied.  To deal with the problems on the equipment being used by the elderly, these now require a systemic solution, which will need a more specific approach of customizing a program or software that will address the difficulty encountered by the elderly in using the computer and the Internet.

4.3   Customized Program/Software as Solution to the Difficulty Problem       

As mentioned above, elderly most commonly encounter difficulty in reading the letters, recognizing figures and following complicated commands in the computer.  Part of this study hence is to design a system or program that will address these difficulties in the use of the computer and the Internet by the elderly people.  Below is a diagram showing the basic components a program or software that could easily be used by the elderly people to facilitate their utilization of computer and the Internet.

As illustrated in the diagram below, it is clear that by customizing a computer program or software that can easily turn a standard personal computer (PC) into easy-to-use computer, this can create various functions that will readily address the concerns of the elderly.  In this way, such systemic solution can address the various difficulties that the elderly people are facing in the use of the computer and the Internet. 

The software intended for the elderly are expectedly easy to use and it involves easy-to-use command and functions to facilitate the use of computer and the interned for the elderly users.  For instance, it will involve commands (Icons) that are flashed widely into the computer screen for the elderly to: 1) automatically magnify or reduce computer screen for easy reading; 2) increase reduce sound volumes; or 3) perform other commands to facilitate use by the elderly people of computer and Internet..  It has also Option Buttons (Icon) provides the elderly an option to shift into touch screen mode when using the computer.  This function is designed for those who are suffering infirmities that affect the grip or control of the hands or for those having difficulties controlling or moving the mouse.  Command boxes are also available to easily be touched (on a touch screen mode) or mouse clicked and the elderly can proceed directly to e-mailing, chatting, video-conferencing, picture-making or even playing music.

The DVD in which the software is loaded is also equipped with special tutoring or mentoring file that elderly users can easily open and will prompt or flash commands in big icons leading them to a series of learning modules involving teaching, testing, and evaluation windows, which are meant entirely to teach them the essential of using the computer and the Internet and hence improve their skills and knowledge accordingly.  In the end, such program loaded with teaching file can really be a whole package for improving the skills knowledge and even attitude of the elderly in the use of the computer and the Internet.

Figure 4.1

Components of Computer Program/Software to Address Difficulties Encountered by Elderly People in Using the Computer and the Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


4.4   Summary

In this chapter, the problems and concern commonly encountered by senior citizens in using the computer and the Internet have been identified and verified.  Based on a survey conducted among elderly whose samples are divided into four situational groups, such common problems or concerns have been determined and these have something to do with the knowledge and skills, attitude and physical equipment available for the elderly in their use of the computer and the Internet. 

To address these, foreseen solutions involve adjusting or improving external and internal conditions to the seniors were indicated and discussed.  These solutions comprise mainly of systemic and cognitive as well as skills formative solutions.  Systemic approach involves designing a specific program or software that will address the difficulties of the elderly people in using the computer and the Internet.  Cognitive or skills formative solutions on the other hand involve approaches that are aimed to improve the attitude, interest, knowledge and skills of the elderly users of the computer and the Internet.


CHAPTER 5 – CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.1   Conclusion

This study has investigated, analyzed, discussed and verified that firstly, there is a growing number of elderly users of computer and the Internet and that such phenomenon is bringing important benefits on such elderly users in terms of enhanced emotional and physical well-being, as well as active participation and meaningful contribution to their community in general. 

The benefits that the elderly people derive from the Internet are achieved in various ways.  Internet helps the seniors cope up with their emotional and physical burdens and increases their willingness to fight isolation and loneliness.  In the United Kingdom (UK), many of the elderly people are now using the Internet to link and communicate with their friends, relatives, and loved ones.  Likewise the use of social networking sites, such as WAYN, Facebook, Eons, Taltopia, aNobii, Ravelry, The Hospitality Club, Meet the Boss, not only allows the elderly to combat isolation through constant communication with loved ones, but also gives them better opportunities to do charitable endeavors, seek information about politics, business and markets, but also new acquaintances. 

The Internet is also an effective source of information for the elderly, particularly, if the elderly people are engaged in a politics or business, which requires information on current policies or market demands, prices, and competition respectively.  The seniors also take advantage of meeting, creating new friend – a thing they needed most particularly when they are away from their family or they lost loved ones.  Likewise, the Internet is a means to improve their physical health through information on social security matters or those that have something to do with how they can promoting physical wellness, i.e., useful health tips as well as sound advice from medical experts.

Secondly however, there are problems or concerns being encountered by the seniors in using the computer and the Internet.  Using a survey method and using questionnaires distributed to different groups of elderly, these problems and concern commonly encountered by senior citizens in using the computer and the Internet were identified and verified.  From the results of the survey conducted among elderly, these common problems or concerns have been determined and these are found related to matters on knowledge and skills, attitude and physical equipment that elderly possess in their use of the computer and the Internet. 

Now thirdly, to address these problems or concerns, this paper has presented solutions that involve improvement in the external and internal conditions of the seniors using the computer and the Internet.  These solutions comprise mainly of systemic and cognitive as well as skills formative solutions. To improve knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the elderly people in the use of the computer and the Internet, this paper has presented the formative solutions that involve a teaching, mentoring, and tutoring program aimed at improving the elderly people’s knowledge and skills, and raising their interest in the use of such technologies such as the computer and the Internet. 

To address the difficulties that elderly people encounter in the use of the computer and the Internet, this paper presented a customised software, whose basic components seek to address the difficulties of the elderly particularly in terms of very unrecognizable letters, figures and complicated commands in the use of the computer and the Internet.  The software includes various functions that specifically address the concerns of the elderly.

5.2.    Recommendations

Based on the findings in this study, recommendations are made both in the practical and theoretical levels.  In the practical level, other ways by which more elderly people will be taught on the benefits that they can derive from the computer and the Internet, should be considered and formulated.  Here, a blueprint of a national program resulting from coordination from various sectors, i.e. the government, the business sector, and even the cause oriented groups, can be formulated to improve plight of the elderly group  particularly with thrust on the importance of using the computer and the Internet in improving their quality of life.  Also, there should be initiatives in protecting elderly users of the Internet from any wrongdoings by those who may take advantage of their vulnerabilities and trustworthiness. 

At the theoretical level, it is recommended that studies similar to the direction of this study must still be pursued.  More surveys can be done to investigate the concerns of the elderly not only in the use of the computer and the Internet but also of other kinds of technologies such as computer or video games, communication devices such as mobile phones and other modern means by which they can participate on the normal functioning of the society.  Other related studies may also be made such as for instance how Homes of the Aged can be further improved to accommodate the needs of the elderly not only in terms of the computer and the Internet but also in terms of other technologies.  Related studies should also be made on how to counter extreme case of using too much the computer which can lead to health problems, such as back pains, rheumatism, hypertension, etc.  Medical experts should get involved in such undertaking.


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APPENDIX 1

Interview Questionnaire

1. Do you use the computer and the Internet?

2.  How often do you use the computer and the Internet, please check the line with corresponding answer below: (Please check one item only)

____ Everyday

____ Everyday – Once a Week

____ Once a Week – Once Every 2 Weeks

____ Once Every 2 weeks – Once Every 3 weeks

____ Once Every 3 Weeks – Once a Month

____ Rarely

3. What do you think are your reasons why you rarely use or do not use the computer and the Internet? (Please check at least the first seven items on the list)

 (For Those Living with their Adult Children)

______ Fear of not having the right skills.

______ Little skills for it.

______ No skills for it.

______ Lack of time for it due to other preoccupations.

______ No time for it.

______ Children using the computer most of the time.

______ Having hard time reading the letters.

______ Having hard time recognizing figures.

______ Computers have very complicated commands.

______ No computer facility.

______ Not interested.

 (For those Living in the Home of the Aged)

______ Fear of not having the right skills for it.

______ Little Skills for it.

______ No Skills for it.

______ No time for it.

______ Lack of time for due to other preoccupations.

______ Having hard time reading the letters.

______ Having hard time recognizing figures.

______ Computer have very complicated commands

______ Having difficulty in moving hand.

______ Not interested.

 

Thank you for your time.

Brunel University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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