Internet adoption by the elderly: employing IS technology acceptance theories for understanding the age-related digital divide
Niehaves Björn, Plattfaut Ralf
Information technology (IT) allows members of the growing elderly population to remain independent longer. However, while technology becomes more and more pervasive, an age-related underutilisation of IT remains observable. For instance, elderly people (65 years of age and older) are significantly less likely to use the Internet than the average population (see, for instance, European Commission, 2011). This age-related digital divide prevents many elderly people from using IT to enhance their quality of life through tools, such as Internet-based service delivery. Despite the significance of this phenomenon, the information systems (IS) literature lacks a comprehensive consideration and explanation of technology acceptance in general and more specifically, Internet adoption by the elderly. This paper thus studies the intentions of the elderly with regard to Internet use and identifies important influencing factors. Four alternative models based on technology acceptance theory are tested in the context of comprehensive survey data. As a result, a model that explains as much as 84% of the variance in technology adoption among the elderly is developed. We discuss the contribution of our analyses to the research on Internet adoption (and IT adoption in general) by the elderly, on the digital divide, and on technology acceptance and identify potentially effective paths for future research and theoretical development.