Psychosocial barriers to internet use among older adults

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University of Alabama Libraries

The perspectives of a small network of non-Internet adopting older adults were explored. A general inductive approach illuminated a complex social system where both psychological and social factors contributed and influenced the barriers to non-use of the Internet. The researcher, using a qualitative design and purposive sampling, interviewed 15 older adults 65-87, who were mainly white, protestant, from a county in the southeastern area of the U.S. The general inductive approach and structural coding were used to analyze the qualitative data to identify themes in the text data that were related to the research objectives. Older adults were asked to elaborate on the main reasons for non-use, delve into the factors contributing to their fears and concerns, and reflect on their social network experiences that either provided support or hindered their interest in Internet adoption. The findings illuminated reticent older adult participants with vacillating levels of interest and reasons for non-adoption that were influenced by co-occurring psychological and social factors. While some support was found regarding the positive influence of social networks, direct and indirect discouragement was primarily found within the social networks of older non-users, which created a barrier to adoption. Serendipitous findings suggested that some participants were in multiple stages of Rogers's Diffusion of Innovations theory suggesting that the ubiquitous nature of Internet-based mobile technology and the ever-changing landscape of technology products hindered decision-making.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Gerontology, Aging, Social research