Background: Elderly adults have comprised the fastest growing population adopting the Internet and computer technology over the past decade. However, how their experiences can shed light on elderly learning theory has not been examined much in the literature. Objective: This study investigated the factors and reasons associated with Internet adoption and withdrawal among older adults in Taiwan, and if any gender differences exist in this context. Methods: Data on participants aged 50 years and older from the nationally representative "Digital Opportunity Survey on Individuals and Households in Taiwan," who did not use the Internet in 2005 but adopted it in 2007 (n=1548), and those who reported using Internet in 2011 but then withdrew (n=1575), were analyzed. Factors and reasons associated with Internet adoption and withdrawal were examined using both quantitative and qualitative data. Results: Education level independently predicted Internet adoption behavior. With regard to the reasons for adoption, 66% (62/94) of participants indicated they started using the Internet to meet certain "needs"; for example, "keeping up with the world" (40.4%, 38/94) was listed as the most critical reason, followed by "job needs" (25.5%, 24/94). Older adults with a positive attitude toward the Internet with regard to increasing employment opportunities (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-3.9, P=.04) and the amount of information obtained (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.9, P=.01), as well as enriching recreation and entertainment (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.9, P=.02), were less likely to withdraw from the Internet. The most common reason for Internet withdrawal was "psychological barriers" (eg, no available time, no meaningful use, or nothing worth reading/watching; 66.3%, 193/291), followed by "health barriers" (eg, eyes or body deteriorate with Internet use; 21.0%, 61/291). Although psychological barriers were the most important factor for Internet withdrawal for both men (72.5%, 100/138) and women (62%, 93/150), women were more likely than men to be affected by health barriers (26.0%, 39/150 vs 15.9%, 22/138; P=.004) and anthropic factors or accidental barriers (7.3%, 11/150 vs 2.9%, 4/138; P=.02). Conclusions: Our findings that the need to keep up with the world associated with Internet adoption, and gender differences in reasons behind Internet withdrawal, such that women reported more health and anthropic factors or accidental barriers than man, may provide a new perspective that help health educators understand strategies that encourage older adults to keep learning, an important component of active aging.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics