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It is Time to Make Technology More Older-Adult-Friendly

March 25, 2021

Clemson researchers demonstrate important differences in online privacy decision-making between older and younger adults

Despite the vast benefits technology can provide to older adults, older adults’ tech usage is–by far–below other populations. The popular opinion is that they are not tech-savvy and cannot keep up with the fast-paced of technology. Researchers at the School of Computing at Clemson take a different stance: What if the technology is to blame? Evidence suggests that older adults are often not considered in the design of new technologies, which are consequently not “older-adult-friendly”.

A recent collaboration between the School of Computing and the Psychology department specifically addressed one of the top reasons why older adults use less technology: security and privacy concerns. This work by Reza Ghaiumy Anaraky, Dr. Bart Knijnenburg and Dr. Kayleigh Byrne and their external collaborators Dr. Xinru Page (Brigham Young University) and Dr. Pamela Wisniewski (University of Central Florida) shows that older adults are more likely to carefully trade off the risks and the benefits of disclosure prior to making a disclosure decision.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that apps and platforms that have older adult audiences should clearly communicate information that would be relevant to their privacy. (e.g., what are the benefits of this app? Are there any risks associated with it?) This advice contributes to the team’s broader objective of helping all members of our society benefit from technology in an equitable manner. A paper describing these findings and conclusions titled “To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Examining the Privacy Decision-Making Processes of Older vs. Younger Adults” has been accepted to the 2021 edition of the prestigious ACM SigCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (link: https://chi2021.acm.org).



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