Social Support and Playing Around: An Examination of How Older Adults Acquire Digital Literacy with Tablet Computers

Hsin-Yi Tsai*, Ruth Shillair, Shelia R. Cotten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines how older adults learn to use tablet computers. Learning to use new technologies can help older adults to be included in today's digital society. However, learning to use new technologies is not always easy, especially for older adults. This study focuses on how older adults learn to use a specific technology, tablet computers, and the role that social support plays in this process. Data for this project are from 21 in-depth interviews with individuals who own tablet computers. We examine how older adults engage with tablet devices and increase their digital literacy. The findings suggest that, for older adults to start to use tablets, social support plays an important role. In addition, a key way that many participants report gaining expertise with the technology is through "playing around" with the tablets. Suggestions for how to help older adults learn to use new technologies are detailed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-55
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • digital literacy
  • learning
  • older adults
  • social support
  • tablet computers

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