Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are driving profound changes in the way in which individuals, organizations and governments interact. In particular, the internet has been a major force behind the development towards a more globalized, knowledge-based economy. However, in terms of access to computer access and internet usage, a digital divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ has long been recognized. One key sector of non-users consists of older persons. For various reasons, including no exposure to computers over their lifetime and in their occupations, income levels, physical disability and access to affordable ICT training, only limited percentages of older people have adequate ICT skills. A growing concern has been that older adults who do not engage with ICTs face social disadvantages and exclu-sion. This article reports upon a qualitative study with older non-users of ICTs, with its key goal being to understand what leads to, and the effects of, digital exclusion in later life. Results found that older persons who never made use of ICTs were significantly delineated by gender and socio-economic status patterns - namely, women (especially housewives, who had never been in paid employment), individuals who worked in blue-collar and working-class occupations, and the long-term unemployed. Data also demonstrated that access was not the main issue at hand, and that the failure of older adults to become digital citizens was the result of a continuum of overlapping barriers. This study provided information highlighting the rationales and motivations underlying individuals’ non-use of computers - namely, believing that they were now ‘too old’ to use new technologies, a lack of relevance or ‘life-fit’ of computers, perceived non-usefulness and difficulty to use, anxiety about computer usage, concern about security and privacy issues, and the facing of disability issues.
Digital Exclusion in Later Life: A Maltese Case Study, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Vol. 1, No. 1,
2013, pp. 21-27.
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