[Accessory auricle in the eustachian tube].

[Accessory auricle in the eustachian tube].

A third group largely uses the Internet at home; we might include in this group students and – to a lesser degree – the elderly. 31. “NetValue” figures from the U.K. (which is in third position with 13 percent of the total home online population after Sweden [17.4] and Denmark [16.3]) show a sharp Internet usage increase of 90 percent since 2001 for the elderly (NUA Survey information of 28 March 2002).

Using the concept of technological generations we look at formal and informal learning of young and elderly people in the German context. We use survey material and field impressions we gained in various technology related studies.

Our aim is to understand these reasons and to study obstacles for access by the elderly. This may explain why different adoption speeds relates to age. Both the “pre-technological” and the “household revolution” generation did not have the same opportunities to find support among Internet-skilled friends, because their friends had no experience and there are only a few enthusiastic about the Internet. These few Internet users lack opportunities to exchange their experiences with others, as in other generations.

A 2002 study holds that the Internet is number one hobby for British pensioners and that around 83 percent of seniors in the U.K. go online on a regular basis (NUA survey report of 13 May 2002). No doubt, on the individual level, the elderly can profit personally from turning to the Internet.

B. Östlund, 2003. “Social science research on technology and the elderly – Does it exist?” at www.certec.lth.se/britt.ostlund/SocialScience.pdf, accessed 25 September 2005. The use of the Internet by the elderly may not reach the levels noted for younger audiences. This is a result that many popular Internet applications are not aimed at the elderly and their interests [32].

Most sites meet the needs of experienced young male users, whereas the need and interest of elderly women, the majority of the senior potential, are not targeted. Generally, for the elderly the Internet has a different collective significance than in other generations. In this article we present limits to the individual (motivational) approach, holding that access is a structural problem (e.g., the integration of the work and non-work spheres), as, for example, expressed in social network approaches (Stegbauer, 2001). The work sphere requires computer literacy and gives a magnitude of Internet use-reasons.

Generally young heavy users have more public and scientific attention than “light” or casual users or non-users. There are at least three types of “heavy” Internet users among the population. The first group represents Internet users who perform their online activities nearly exclusively at work, often mixing corporate and private interests. A second group uses the Internet equally at work and home. We might describe these individuals as young professionals, for whom technology use is permanently part of their lifestyle.

A locus for autosomal dominant accessory auricular anomaly maps to 14q11.2-q12

There are a number of stories about grandpa learning about a computer from his grandson or daughter, learning step-by-step and supported by a younger individual acquainted with his shortcomings and peculiarities. This generational co-operation is one smooth solution to a deeper conflict in which and older individual is dependent but wants to be autonomous. The need for individualised special support by others, even by younger, “known” individuals, is a potential menace to one’s self-image and role as the “grown-up.” On the one hand informal computer-learning with peers or family members increases acceptance and creates an atmosphere of trust and understanding. On the other hand the complicated emotional situation of both parties can lead to conflicts. In short, often a professional pedagogical approach might be more appropriate.

The elderly, especially those with reduced mobility, will be more dependent on simple access modes than younger age groups. How can they be approached successfully?

In our conclusions we look at the specific social status of the elderly cohort, which makes a comparison with other social groups very difficult. Concepts of the Internet are intertwined with ideas of a technology driven social development. This can be shown, for example, in discourses about the liberating and participatory potential of e-learning, e-government, e-elections, e-economy, etc. (Roesler, 1997; Malone and Laubacher, 1998; Zerdick, 1999; Lührs, et al., 2004). These and other applications (like e-banking, e-shopping, e-health) stand for the promise that in the near future individual well-being and social progress in the knowledge society (Bundesregierung, 2002; IST, 2002) will be enhanced by the technology of the Internet – provided all citizens have access and are ready to participate.

gerd munker

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