This section presents factors which facilitated internet engagement for some participants, one such factor was a will not to be left behind in a changing society:
Robert: “Well it is getting better but I think, it was like a red rag to a bull erm, I use old telephones and letters and cheques, they talked about stopping doing cheques and the reaction was you can't stop doing cheques, you know, but eventually you think no, be sensible, you've got to do something about it and learn.”
Participants were initially resistant in wanting to learn how to engage with the internet, however, the perception that internet use may be beneficial in a changing society motivated some participants to learn how to use the resource. As described in Section 6.2, Kathleen reported how her son-in-law, who she described as the “Internet kid”, provided access to a tablet computer which she could use to access the internet. Family members’ ability to use the internet sometimes motivated participants to want to learn how to engage with the resource, Peter compared his internet use to his late wife, Gina’s, son, Robbie’s and daughter, Nina’s internet use:
“[Gina] was a whizz on it she could make then do had stands but, and [Robbie] can, and [Nina] can, so I just feel as though I need to you know, I don't want to get left behind.”
(Peter) When comparing their own ability to use the internet with that of their family members’, participants reported that family members were often more proficient at engaging with the resource and participants did not want to be “left behind”.
This section has illustrated that participants described two motivating factors which
encouraged them to learn how to engage with the internet, these being: a will not to be ‘left behind’ in a changing society and the comparison of their internet proficiency with family members’ proficiency.
158 6.5.1 Learning how to use the internet
Within this section I report the ways in which participants described learning how to engage with the internet. Participants reported that younger family members tried to teach them how to use the internet, but also described the importance of courses which taught computer and internet use:
“The children tried to teach me, but they aren't there and if things went wrong I had to wait for them to come again, but then at my local school, erm the council were putting some computer courses on during the day, mostly for older people, so I went to, erm one and I learnt there that was a six week course and then there was one or two courses following on which were helpful.”
(Diane) Family members were not always available to support participants in their learning, therefore, computer courses were essential in teaching some participants how to engage with the
All male participants were recruited from community groups which specifically taught older adults how to use the computer and internet. The community groups which taught computer and internet use ran on a weekly basis, unlike computer courses which, as Diane reported, were scheduled for a set amount of time (e.g. six weeks). Attending such groups helped some participants to overcome their lack of knowledge and fear of using the internet, whilst also increasing their confidence when engaging with the resource:
“Coming here has helped, we're more confident with it now, things don't scare me anymore now with it from coming here, yeah, it doesn't scare me because coming here helps.”
A few participants, who did not attend community groups which taught computer and internet use, suggested that this was something they might like to attend in the future:
“I'd love to go to a computer class! Because I would like to learn about it, but they are all in the evenings and I don't go out very much in the evenings and elderly people don't go out very much in the evenings.”
(Carol) Some participants were motivated to learn how to engage with computers and the internet, but suggested that the arrangement of such groups should suit the needs and preferences of older adults. Female participants also valued the social contact afforded by attending community groups which taught computer and internet use:
“More social, yeah, that is what that computer place is, I mean some of them are really into it and interested but not me … I don't really want to know, I talk there.”
(Frances) Community groups which taught participants how to use the computer and internet served both an educational and social role.
This section has identified that participants learnt how to engage with internet via family members, computer courses and community groups. Attending community groups, which specifically taught participants how to use computers and the internet, provided participants with a space to learn, thus overcoming their unfamiliarity of using the internet. Some participants, who did not attend community groups which taught computer and internet use, suggested that this is something they wished to do in the future, but proposed that such groups need to be suitably scheduled for older adults. Attending community groups which taught computer and internet use increased some participants’ confidence and reduced feelings of
fear when engaging with the internet. Female participants also valued the social aspect of attending such groups.