A tablet—what do you want to do with it? Many of our respondents found it difficult to learn to use a computer device. Their children were much handier with them, and most of our respondents asked them for help when necessary. Yesterday, a very simple thing: the font size was too small. They told me to tick a specific box. A few of our respondents told us about their reluctance to ask too much of their children because they did not want to trouble them. When we asked one of our female respondents if she could ask her sons for help, she answered:.
No, they all live too far away—that is not an option. And my daughter is more nearby, but she also knows little about it. Yes, her husband knows, but I do not want that. I do not want to trouble them. Of the 22 respondents who discussed having a mobile phone in their lives, eight spoke about the influence of their children on accepting the mobile phone.
For the children of four of our respondents, it is a reassurance when they had a mobile phone and brought it with them when leaving their home. Although they felt somewhat pressed, they understood the concerns of their children; reassuring the children was enough reason to accept a mobile phone. This acceptance seemed to be incomplete; they owned a mobile phone and carried it with them, but rarely used it. Children also kindly stimulated the acceptance of a mobile phone by purchasing it together or giving advice. In general, our respondents carried a mobile phone to be sure they could call for help if needed.
For one of our respondents, the worries of his daughter about him cycling without carrying a mobile phone was the reason to buy one. He carried it and recharged it but at the time of our interview had never used it. In addition, a serious life event could directly cause the children to insist that their parent s buy a mobile phone. One of our respondents told us:. Then she gave me one. The children told me to take it with me when I am outside with my mobility scooter. Although her children were rather forceful, she agreed with them because she knew her mobility scooter could break down.
Another woman was very short about the reason why she owned a mobile phone:. Many children gave their parent s a mobile phone as a present. Some older persons appreciated this gift while others felt pressured and were not really happy with it. Contrary to the other technologies examined, a personal alarm only has a prevention and care function and no other appealing uses.
Several respondents who did not have a personal alarm mentioned that they would feel really old when in need of a personal alarm. Respondents who did have a personal alarm stressed the feeling of safety; they were certain that they could call for help when needed. Ten of our respondents spoke about the personal alarm that they used. A serious life event, such as a fall or the death of the spouse, combined with worries of their children gave people enough reason to accept a personal alarm. Some older adults felt somewhat pressed by their children, but they mostly acknowledged that they themselves also felt safer as a result.
One respondent answered as follows when she was asked how necessary the personal alarm was for her:.
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Fifteen older adults addressed the influence of grandchildren. This was most apparent for computer devices, probably because the gap in knowledge and skills between our respondents and their grandchildren was largest in this domain. The enthusiasm of grandchildren for computer devices and applications was very prominent. Grandchildren were a trigger to buy a computer device and to use specific applications like video telephony and social media.
Furthermore, grandchildren were a natural source of support. Older adults displayed pride and pleasure when talking about the abilities of their grandchildren. Due to the enthusiasm of their grandchildren for computer technology, older adults were willing, maybe even eager, to buy and use a computer device. What could stop me? The following quotation shows that the enthusiasm of the granddaughter about a tablet was a stronger facilitator for this respondent than the skepticism of the daughter was a barrier. Computer devices provided opportunities to interact with grandchildren via, for example, video telephony applications or social media.
In particular, grandchildren living abroad were a reason to buy a webcam and use video telephony. For several respondents, interaction with the grandchildren was the most important reason to have a computer and use social media. The following quotation illustrates this importance; even when people did not really like or were not really interested in social media, they used it to stay informed about the lives of their grandchildren.
R: The communication via Facebook and via Twitter. I have an account for my grandchildren; then I see something of their lives. But I do not post messages myself. Grandchildren were also willing to facilitate the use of computer devices; they demonstrated the possibilities e. Although they were often too fast when showing how to do something, respondents appreciated this support very much and were hardly reluctant to accept help from their grandchildren.
Having the opportunity to ask grandchildren for help provided respondents with comfort and pride, as illustrated in the following citation of a grandfather:. My grandson, he is eleven, will support me. He really knows how to use it. He knows how to search for apps. I like it very much. The grandchildren of the following respondent taught her much about the use of her computer.
They are an anchor for her and she proudly tells about it:. I only have to call him to get him in for help. My other grandson is younger, but he might be even more clever with the computer. Our results show that the acceptance of technology by older adults, in the sense of purchasing and using devices, is not an individual matter; it is influenced by spouses, children and grandchildren, as was earlier established in the Netherlands [ 16 ], also in other parts of the world [ 42 , 43 ]. Each category of family members has its own reasons for and methods of influencing.
Interest in, purchase of, and use of technology by older adults is influenced by both spouses and grandchildren as a natural and coincidental part of their interaction. Often, this nourishes the interest of older adults in technology. Although interactions with spouses are more frequent than with grandchildren, pleasure and entertainment are important facilitators when it comes to influencing technology acceptance in both these relationships.
However, the interaction between spouses sometimes also has some intentional aspects. In general, but not always, spouses are supportive of each other: they persuade or stimulate and help each other in buying or using a specific technology. Furthermore, they are a natural, and often available, facilitator and source of support.
Spouses ride their electric bikes together.
Sometimes, they even complement each other when using certain devices; for example, one man keyed in the number when his wife wanted to call someone with their mobile phone. The question remains of what happens when one of the spouses dies: Will the other then still ride the electric bike and use the mobile phone, or would that be too much of a challenge?
Our results indicate that after the decease of the spouse older adults might not always continue using devices that their spouse brought into the home, but sometimes they do. Therefore, it would be interesting to further study this in future longitudinal research.
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Spouses and grandchildren influence technology acceptance of older adults in a rather unintentional way; it is a natural and coincidental part of their regular interaction. This holds true for the influence of children as well, but their influence also has more intentional aspects and is partly driven by concerns. For example, mostly out of concern, children strongly advise their parents to use a mobile phone.
Sometimes, a mobile phone is given as a present, which is appreciated by some, while others feel that it is forced upon them. Especially when it concerns technology that is not specifically designed for older adults, like a mobile phone, they follow their instructions and rarely go their own way in buying or using technology when their perspective deviates from that of their children. This is more complex when it concerns devices specifically designed for older adults, like a personal alarm, that might have a stigmatizing effect.
In those cases, older adults weighed the tradeoff between personal feelings of safety and worries of their children and the possible stigmatization. Many of our respondents have assumed an adaptive management strategy to cope with needing help. Positive or negative feelings are invoked by the matching of the arranged support and the needs as experienced by older adults themselves [ 2 ]. In general, older adults are reluctant to ask too much of their children. Other research suggests a delicate trade-off between maintaining independence and following the opinion of their children.
Older adults do this , also because they want to avoid burdening their children [ 15 , 29 ]. Additional studies have revealed the importance of social relationships for older adults and the reluctance to burden their children [ 3 , 4 , 14 , 24 , 45 ]. We also found such indications but can add that older people hardly are reluctant to ask their grandchildren for help. The enthusiasm and help of grandchildren is a clear facilitator in the acceptance of technology by older adults.
Filled with pride, older adults tell about the enthusiasm and the abilities of their grandchildren in using computer devices and about their willingness to help when problems arise. Facilitating communication and being informed about the lives of family members, especially grandchildren, is the main reason for older adults to use video telephony or have an account on social media. The results of our study are summarized in Table 2. Use by grandchildren may lead to use by older adults, typically not the other way around.
For example, the most dominant model—the Technology Acceptance Model TAM —only incorporates one social variable: subjective norm i. This limitation of TAM was put forward by the original author [ 10 ] and is confirmed by our study, which shows that other types of social influence besides subjective norm play a role in the acceptance of technology by older adults, such as the help and support offered by family members.
UTAUT incorporates facilitating conditions, which are defined as the degree to which an individual believes that an organizational and technical infrastructure exists to support use of the system [ 46 , 47 ]. However, our study shows that the mere belief that support is available is not enough to facilitate use by older adults; older adults also need to be willing to call upon their relatives to help them. It is important to note that several authors have attempted to extend TAM, in order to form models that are more suitable to the context of older adults.
This model, which is aimed at predicting acceptance of mobile phones by older adults, also entails social influence. Observability can be defined as the extent to which the results of using a technology are visible to others [ 44 ]. This is in line with the findings in the current study, in which we have also found that the use of technology by family members influenced the use of technology by older adults.
The study by Chen and Chan [ 49 ] showed that satisfying and supportive personal relationships, as well as a high level of social activity, can have a positive effect on the self-reported use of various types of technologies by older adults. However, Chen and Chan [ 49 ] have not added or tested variables that can explain how and why personal relationships and social activity can affect technology use.
All in all, it seems that none of the abovementioned models captures all of our findings: the various ways in which family members influence technology use by older adults are scattered across various models. Moreover, none of the abovementioned models captures the underlying motivation of family members who influence technology use by older adults.
This paper was limited to the role of family members in technology acceptance of older adults. It should be noted that we asked our older respondents in an open way about the purchase and intended use of technology and factors that could be of influence.
Although we did not explicitly ask about the role of spouses, children, or grandchildren, in most interviews, these roles naturally came to the fore, far more extensively than did the roles of other family members or peers. However, focusing explicitly on the role of family members is expected to provide additional valuable insights. Focusing on the role of the whole network is also important because the number of people growing old without children and grandchildren—or with children living at a greater distance—increases.
Furthermore, it should be noted that, in some cases, spouses were present during the interview. And although interviewers directed their questions to respondents, spouses sometimes clarified or added insights to the interview. This was helpful in understanding factors that influence technology acceptance, but it of course also influenced our results. However, to support a confidential environment for the interview, we do not think it is feasible to ask the spouse to leave the room during the interview. While our study adds to the current literature by focusing on the behavior of older adults i.
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Research shows that studies based on self-reported use may show different results with studies employing direct usage measurement i. This implies that the findings in our study cannot readily be compared with findings from studies that measure actual usage. Additionally, it cannot be ruled out that our self-reported subjective measurements of use are biased i. The current study indicates several directions for further research in addition to those mentioned before. To fully understand social dimensions of technology acceptance, it would be worthwhile to study the role of all members of the social network from the perspective of both older adults themselves and members of their social network.
Such studies should focus on the social network in a broad sense, including peers, friends, but also professionals like general practitioners or caregivers and should focus on both motives and actions. Besides, it would be interesting to study the impact of members of the social network. Could a supportive network help to overcome difficulties in technology or help older adults to become more convinced of their own capacities?
In addition, it would be of value to study the attitudes and opinions of various stakeholders including older adults involved in use of technology. This provides insight in how attitudes and opinions influence technology use. This is especially interesting when attitudes and opinions are conflicting between older adults and members of their social network.
Our study reveals the importance of including family members when implementing technology in the lives of older adults. Because our study shows that parents are willing to try to use technology when their children are convinced of its positive effects, it is obvious that children should be provided with information about the value and use of devices to be implemented.
Many children worry about their parents, so they will probably be ambassadors of certain technology when it helps to diminish their worries.
Our study also indicates that it could be of added value to determine an appropriate role of grandchildren when trying to stimulate technology acceptance by older adults. Grandchildren are both approachable and often skilled at working with technology, even at a very young age.
Furthermore, older adults easily adopt their enthusiasm for technology; indeed, they are more willing to accept technology that their grandchildren like.
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This will not be the case for specifically designed assistive technology, but grandchildren can probably have a facilitating role when it comes to applications running on a regular tablet, smart phone, or other computer devices. Exploring the potential of the role of grandchildren for technology acceptance by older adults might also diminish the burden for children. SIA-RAAK had no role in the design of the study; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the paper for publication. We would like to thank the participants for welcoming us to their homes.
We would like to thank Maurice Rijnaard, Marianne Nieboer, Claire van der Voort, Joost van Hoof, Sil Aarts, and Stephan Roijers for their help with interviewing and observing the respondents, and their help with the coding of the interviews. Additionally, we appreciate Bert Vrijhoef for his contribution to the project. All authors made a substantial, direct, intellectual contribution to this study, including the design of the study, analysis of data, interpretation of results, and preparation of the manuscript.
Katrien Luijkx drafted this manuscript, and Sebastiaan Peek and Eveline Wouters critically revised it. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Dec 5. Hannah Marston, Academic Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Jul 24; Accepted Dec 2. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Keywords: technology acceptance, technology adoption, family, social network, perspective of older adults.
Introduction In general, older adults wish to live independently in their own homes as long as possible, also known as aging in place. Therefore, the following research question is central in this paper: Why and how do family members, including spouses, influence the acceptance of technology by community-dwelling older adults, according to older adults themselves? Methods A qualitative study was conducted among community-dwelling older adults in a town in the south of the Netherlands. Results Of the 72 potential respondents who were invited to participate in the study, 53 gave their consent, a response rate of Open in a separate window.
Spouses: Natural and Coincidental Although fifteen of our respondents lived with their spouses at the time of the interview, eleven explicitly said something about the influence of their spouses on the acceptance of technology. Computer Devices The use of computer devices was mostly limited to surfing the Internet, video telephony, and electronic banking. A widower who did not have any interest in computer devices at all replied to our question why he had accepted the computer that was given to him and his wife when she was still alive: For my wife…otherwise that computer would never have come here.
Male, 77 years, living alone. Once a week. Maybe Once a week.
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