18-20 March 2015
Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany
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B 10: Bridging Generations
Understanding Differentiated Internet Skills among the Elderly
1Northwestern University, United States of America; 2Microsoft Research, United States of America
Relevance & Research Question: Many studies of Internet users focus on young adults ignoring information about older populations. Even in national samples, users above a certain age (e.g., 65) tend to be grouped together thereby assuming that the elderly are homogenous when it comes to their online behavior. Research on digital inequality has found across different national contexts that those from more privileged backgrounds are not only more likely to be Internet users, but also tend to be more skilled at using the Web. Such research rarely contains data on the elderly, however. As people from diverse backgrounds live longer, it may be that differentiated skills exist even among older age groups. This paper looks at whether there are Internet skill differences among older adults.
Methods & Data: We collected survey data from an online panel about 505 Internet users ages 60-80 in the United States focusing on their Internet skills.
Results: We find that the more highly educated and those with higher incomes exhibit higher skills. Once we control for autonomy of use, or the freedom to use digital media when and where one wants, we no longer see a relationship between Internet skills and income. This suggests that financial circumstances are influencing online abilities at the level of access even among older adults who are all Internet users. Those with the lowest levels of education continue to be less skilled regardless of user autonomy. Countering findings for other age groups, we find no gender difference in skills among the elderly. We also find that among a group of older adults, age still matters. Those in their early 60s are more skilled than those in their later 60s who are more skilled than those in their 70s.
Added Value: Our unique data about a diverse group of older adults’ Internet skills contributes to digital inequality literature on a population that tends to be ignored by most existing studies. We know of no other study that focuses on older adults’ Internet skills.
Parent-Child Connections on Facebook and Cyberbullying
University of Haifa, Israel
a) Relevance & Research Question:One understudied area of research is the extent that the presence of a parent in the SNS children’s friend list might serve as a protective factor from online negative experiences and cyberbullying online. This study fills a gap in the literature and investigates the association of parent-child connection on SNS on teens’ participation in online risk activities and exposure to online negative experiences and cyber-bullying.
Methods & Data: The 2011 Teens and Digital Citizenship Survey sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 799 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old and their parents living in the continental United States (Pew and American Life, 2011). A secondary analysis of this survey was conducted.
Results: We found that consistent with the argument of routine activity theory, participation in online risk activities is associated with the exposure to negative experiences in SNS and exposure to cyber-bullying. Controlling for the children's participation in risky online activities and socio-demographic factors, children reporting having a parent as a Facebook friend reported fewer negative experiences on social networking sites and were less likely to be victims of cyberbullying.
d) Added Value: The protective effect of the parent-child connection on Facebook is explained mainly by a reduction in the number of social networking site activities, not by a reduction in the children's participation in risky activities online. Furthermore, the parent-child connection on Facebook apparently has a specific protective effect might result from child voluntary disclosure of information to parents.
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