Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Internet Worried

In reading the Pew study, I found myself drawn to the numbers of people who were non-users because they feared the content or were leary of lurking criminal activity.

Just this week we heard that thousands of consumers will receive letters that their information has been compromised by ChoicePoint, a personal information 'clearinghouse'. Oh, they got cleared alright. Last week or so, one of the local stations featured a weeklong series on SPYWARE LURKING ON YOUR COMPUTER, which was no doubt a 'packaged' news service product with local reporter segues. And who watches and diligently picks up on all the fear mongering in the media most of all? Judging by the omnipresent pharmaceutical ads, it's older Americans. Is it any wonder, then, that so many of them are firmly non-users.

Beyond the fear factor, many of the older people I know, just like in the article, really do have technology learning barriers to overcome. Remote controls and car radios pose substantial problems for older Americans; I can see how they would be overwhelmed by the complexities of a home computer. Before he passed away in 2003, I am not sure my father ever even sat alongside someone who was online to get at least a sense of what is out there.

In light of the stubborn disinterest of many older, rurual, less-educated Americans, I don't see how efforts to reduce the divide between them and the online population can be very successful.

1 comment:

  1. Just a little story.
    I'm using telephony programs on the Internet to talk with my family in Italy for free (except for ISP fees). Before leaving Italy I explained my grandma how the Internet works. She just couldn't get it. She couldn't get the concept. Actually for her is kind of strange the computer concept at all, whatever...
    I solved the problem telling her that we would have talked like we were on the phone, but through this strange Internet and a sort of TV (the screen). Ok, she seemed she get it.
    But my parents report that the first time that I talked with her (she was using earplugs to ear me), even if I was on the screen like in TV due to web cam, when I first talked and said Hi! she turned on her back to check if I was in the room behind her.
    Clearly, she wasn't used to earplugs that gave her the sensation that I was behind her (now she's a pro though). But that story gave me completely the sense of how much elderly people struggle to understand simply the concept behind a network of computers and what you can obtain by that.