Older adults 'less confident' about PC skills

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Older adults 'less confident' about PC skills

Study recommends steps to help silver surfers.

Older adults feel less confident about their computer knowledge than younger adults, according to research conducted at the University of Alberta.

"This lack of confidence is a major factor in older adults' ability to become proficient with computer technology, which unfortunately results in less computer use," said Dr Patricia Boechler, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Alberta.

The study also highlights the obstacles older adults experience such as a significant decrease in sensory keenness, particularly with vision and hearing, as well as a decrease in motor skills owing to health problems such as arthritis.

"Often a large challenge for older adults when using the computer is navigating the mouse and keyboard, which is commonly due to a health problem like arthritis," said Dr Boechler.

The researchers studied approximately 40 older adults by having them complete computer exercises and measured their results compared to undergraduates who previously completed the exercises.

The study provided a list of recommendations to help "even the playing field " for older adults such as increasing font sizes to accommodate vision problems, ensuring that verbal instructions are delivered at an appropriate volume with minimal noise distractions, and giving demonstrations of the tasks ahead of time to reduce anxiety.
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