Conference Paper: Motivation and Communicating Social Support in Education and Utilization of Computer Technologies among Older Adults
DONG Zhuowen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, dong...@cuhk.edu.hk
This study investigates the dynamic of communication in the process of older adults’ learning and using computer technologies. It focuses on the evolving motivations of computer use by the elderly and social support they seek and receive while communicating with others in their social networks offline or online. By conducting field observation at a community IT (Information Technologies) college and in- depth interviews with elderly students and supportive volunteers, the researcher found that the pursuit of social support was the initial motivation of older adults to learn computer technologies. While learning IT in the community offline or online, individuals communicated with peers, instructors and family members, receiving and even providing social support, which improved their sense of control over changes in life and motivated them to get more benefits from the technologies. Computer- mediated communication was shown to stimulate the exchange of social support. Based on the findings, implications are discussed for harnessing IT to facilitate communication in the social networks of older adults, and provide them with adequate social support, so as to improve their well-being. Suggestions are also given to elderly education programs.