Older Adults Engagement Modes using Computer and Internet Technologies

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Wilson, Marie

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Houghton, Luke

Ruth, Alison

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The 21st century offers technology advancement and engagement with the passive, static information of print and website media as well as interactive social networking media on the Internet. Children born into this era quickly learn the language, join the digital community, and engage with these technologies. However, older adults who were not born into this dynamic technological era grapple with the constant changes that are explained by Moore's law. This has resulted in a digital skills and knowledge divide that sees older adults excluded from full inVol.vement in dynamic communities that included digital engagement. In order to reduce this digital divide, we need first to understand why some older adults engage with computer and internet technologies therefore, this thesis explores the engagement modes of older adults using computer and internet technologies. The research questions of this thesis are ‘Do older adults’ engagement modes influence their perception about computer and internet technology use?’ and ‘Can understanding these engagement modes help address digital divide issues facing older adults?’ A multi-method approach was undertaken as this enabled the researcher to explore the phenomena using both qualitative and quantitative methods providing rigorous and robust results. This was achieved through two studies that were conducted over a period of five years. The first study explored whether there is a difference between older adult and younger adult engagement modes, as well as any relationship between older adults’ perceived usefulness of the technology and their engagement modes. The second study was confirmatory analysis of the results of study one, which incorporated participant observation to test whether the engagement modes were observable and how these observations, could be explained.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Griffith Business School

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Chapters 2 and 8 have not been included here for copyright reasons. Refer to page iv.

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Knowledge divide

Digital skills

Technology and older people

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