What's on your mind?
Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '14
Social networking sites (SNSs) are becoming increasingly popular as a method for social interaction. While research has reported benefits associated with components of SNS usage, a digital divide has emerged between younger and older users. SNSs can be useful for communicating with family members and helping one feel digitally included; however, there are a wide range of reasons why many older adults choose not to use this kind of technology. We present a series of user studies investigating
... barriers and challenges that SNSs can present to older users. These user studies led to the derivation of user recommendations to mitigate these barriers. The recommendations were then evaluated within a comparative evaluation which involved 25 older adults completing tasks on two interface versions of a simulation SNS. We present the recommendations and the methods of their creation and evaluation. Implications for developers of SNSs are discussed. General Terms Human Factors 1 https://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts Researchers from different fields have investigated reasons and implications for this rise in popularity. Such research has suggested that intensity of Facebook usage is positively associated with life satisfaction and social trust  , and the use of some Facebook components are associated with increased social capital [5, 21] and reduced loneliness  . Additionally, researchers have found that SNSs can be a beneficial online platform for older adults as a communication platform with family members [1, 8, 9, 14, 17, 20] . Using social media, where, for example, children or grandchildren live far away, is suggested to help older adults who feel disassociated with family events  . Despite these positive associations and benefits of use, younger adults are considerably more likely than older adults to be using them. Ofcom found that 92% of 16-24 year old respondents have set up an SNS profile, compared with 25% of respondents over 65  . Similarly, Pew Research Center's report observes that 89% of the respondents aged 18-29 use SNSs, compared with 43% of over 65s  . A lack of interest and purpose have been suggested as leading reasons for the low uptake amongst the older population [7, 9, 13, 16, 20] . This signifies a digital divide and a problem for older adults if SNSs are used more widely for communication and diffusion of information. We believe that by considering the needs and opinions of older adults, a more acceptable and useful platform for online communication can be provided. This research aims to explore measures to make SNSs more inclusive by creating user-centred recommendations for developers of such sites. These recommendations attempt to avoid common barriers which can prevent older adults from choosing to use SNSs. These suggested improvements aim to support older adults who would potentially be interested in using a SNS, but don't for a variety of reasons, rather than those that find SNSs uninteresting or without purpose. While the recommendations do not contain a solution to every problem, we believe that they are a positive step in identifying potential solutions to key barriers. Additionally, despite sharing similar concerns, such as privacy, many younger adults continue to use SNSs in order to enjoy social inclusion  . While many of the concerns may not be unique to older adults, we support that developing for 'extra ordinary' users helps improve the service for people of all ages  .