Understanding the use and non-use of social communication technologies by older adults: A qualitative test and extension of the UTAUT model

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Technology has the ability to foster social engagement, but a sizable divide exists between older and younger adults in the use of social communication technologies. The goal of the current study was to gain a better understanding of older adults’ perspectives on social communication technologies, including those with higher adoption rates such as email and those with lower adoption rates such as social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram). Semi-structured group interviews were conducted with either users or non-users of social networking sites to gain insight into issues of adoption and non-adoption of social communication technologies. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology model (UTAUT) was adapted and used to categorize the interview content. We found support for a benefit-driven account of social communication technology acceptance and usage, with participants most frequently discussing the degree social communication technologies would or would not help them attain gains in social connectedness, entertainment, and/or information sharing. However, the UTAUT was not sufficient in fully capturing the group-interview content, with additional categories being necessary. For instance, trust in social networking sites (privacy and security concerns) was frequently discussed by both users and non-users. The current results broaden theories of technology acceptance by identifying facilitators and barriers to technology use in the older adult population.


https://doi.org/10.4017/ gt.2019.