SFU researchers reaching out to the Silver Surfers

Researchers at SFU want feedback from seniors to find out exactly how they're using Internet services in rural areas.

  • Aug. 10, 2011 11:00 a.m.

As a host of essential services — such as banking, healthcare and e-government — are looking to the Internet to make services more easily and constantly accessible, so too are many of the users of those services.

However, it seems as though senior citizens are being left behind as they continue to be wary of adopting the online versions of those services. Some researchers have even referred to the divide between younger and older Internet users as the ‘gray gap.’

More troubling still are the untapped possibilities in small and rural communities where many of these services are often moving, reducing services, or shutting down as they downsize and transition to online services. Indeed, if seniors fail to take advantage of these services on the Internet, they might be neglected by the very services on which they so vitally depend.

Some studies suggest a variety of reasons why seniors are not going online for these services as much as they could be, ranging from a lack of perceived need to a fear of an overly technological society. Regardless of the reasoning, it is important to understand and reduce this ‘gray gap’ as much as possible to make sure senior citizens aren’t left in the past.

Researchers at Simon Fraser University are currently attempting to understand how senior citizens in rural and remote communities are (or are not) using computers for their health and safety. To take part in the study, or for more information, see www.sfu.ca/silversurfers.

– Submitted article

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