Empowerment of Senior Citizens via the Learning of Information and Communication Technology

Yu-cheung Wong, Honglin Chen, Vincent W.P. Lee, John Y.C. Fung, Chi-kwong Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most East Asian countries have policies to promote digital inclusion, especially among the children of low-income families and persons with disabilities, for the purposes of social development. However, such efforts and their impact among older people have been rather limited. In Hong Kong, only 7 % of those aged 65 or above were Internet users in 2008, compared with 66.7 % of the general public. Providing computer and Internet training programmes to older people is thus crucial in promoting digital inclusion. This paper discusses the experience and results of training older people to use both a computer and the Internet. Based on findings from an earlier qualitative study, we hypothesise that acquiring knowledge of computers and Internet use will have an empowering effect for older people in terms of increasing self-efficacy and enhancing communication with friends and family members. This paper presents two studies of such empowerment among older people in two non-governmental organisations (NGOs). While older people with little computer knowledge showed some effects of empowerment, at the same time, they also became more aware of the marginalisation and exclusion effects of their limited knowledge of computer and Internet usage. However, among users with some prior experience of using a computer, further training failed to show additional positive empowerment results. The results of the two studies call for a re-examination of the training process and experience of older people as well as integration of such training with other strategies to achieve better results in promoting their social inclusion in the information society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-162
Number of pages19
JournalAgeing International
Volume39
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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