Senior citizens: Digital immigrants in their own country?

Eugène Loos

Abstract


Populations are aging at a rapid pace in the majority of western countries. At the same time, these countries are increasingly becoming more digitalized and information is supplied to a growing extent in digital form. To what extent is there an actual problem for senior citizens who are looking for accessible information? Is age the deciding factor for the way they make use of old and new media to gain access to information or are there other explanations for their information search behaviour? The results of the empirical studies presented in this article show that the Dutch citizens, young and old, are spread across a ‘digital spectrum. (Lenhart & Horrigan, 2003), rather than facing one another across the much-touted age-based ‘digital divide’. Prensky’s (2001) ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ do not appear to exist in the Netherlands, at least as far as their information seeking behaviour is concerned. This article will show that not only age but life stages, to some extent socialization and (as people start to age older) age-related functional limitations also play a role. Adopting a multi-channel approach and designing information sources by the principle of dynamic diversity could offer a solution.

Keywords


digital divide, digital spectrum, digital natives, digital immigrants, senior citizens, eye-tracking

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS612012513