An examination of the historical time-period and socio-cultural factors that influence use and non-use of information and communication technologies by older, working-class Black Americans
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Type of Work146 leaves
DepartmentUniversity of Baltimore. School of Information Arts and Technologies
ProgramUniversity of Baltimore. Doctor of Science in Information and Interaction Design
RightsThis item may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. It is made available by the University of Baltimore for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
Minorities in technology
The United States Administration on Aging (2011) predicts that over the next forty years the number of people 65 and older will double and the number of people 85 and older will triple. Meanwhile, technology is becoming more and more important in our everyday lives. The ubiquitous presence of technology in our lives is evidenced in daily activities such as the use of self-service kiosks in grocery stores, the act of completing and submitting forms and documentation online using the Internet, and the disappearance of public pay phones due to the mass marketing of cell phones. These digital technologies, including methods for communication and techniques for storing and processing information, are known collectively as Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). ICTs are often studied in the context of how modern communication technologies affect society. This study was designed to better understand the use and non-use of ICTs by working-class, Black American older adults. The study focused on these specific ICTs: computers, cell phones, and tablet PCs. The questions guiding the inquiry were these: *What socio-cultural factors influence use and non-use of ICTs among older, working-class Black Americans? *What are the engagement patterns, learning experiences, and behavioral transference among older Black Americans within the lower-income and working-class economic strata with ICTs? The target audience for this study was Black Americans within the working-class and lower-income social strata, ages 65 and over. The data collection consisted of a pre-screen questionnaire, individual interviews, and a brief survey about perceptions and attitudes towards ICTs. Narrative research inquiry was used to analyze the interview responses in relation to the engagement patterns, learning experiences, and behavioral transference with ICTs by the target audience. Research on the usage of ICTs has focused primarily on lower-income youth and middle- and higher-income adults with higher levels of education. This study is different in that it focuses on a population often marginalized and not considered in the analysis of patterns and trends regarding use and non-use of ICTs. This study contributes to the field by exploring the historical time-period and socio-cultural factors that influence use and non-use of ICTs by an audience that has been inadequately studied. The research conducted reveals how age, race, and class influence the access, adoption, and use or non-use of ICTs. The findings of this research reveal socio-cultural factors limit the levels of use by the target audience. The learning experiences are greatly influenced by family members and peers. The desire of the target audience to learn more about ICTs is driven both by personal interest and the idea that older adults will be left behind. Engagement patterns include the adoption, acquisition, and use of ICTs. Similar to the learning experiences, family and peers play a critical role in the engagement patterns. Although the current engagement patterns and use of ICTs by Black Americans within the working-class and lower-income social strata mirrors global trends regarding the usage of ICTs, there are psychosocial factors influencing the magnitude of usage and level of proficiency achieved by the study participants. Behavioral transference from inside the home to outside of the home in regards to using ICTs is directly related to the user type level. In conclusion, older Black Americans, ages 65 and over, within the working-class and lower-income social strata, have an interest in and a desire to adopt, learn, and use ICTs. There is a direct correlation between use and non-use of ICTs by members of this audience and the historical time-period, prior experience and exposure to ICTs, and income and education levels. Participants who were exposed to computers in the workplace during the late 1970s and early 1980s possessed higher comfort, skill, and knowledge levels regarding ICTs. Education and income levels also impacted use or non-use of ICTs. Participants with higher levels of education and income used computers and cell phones more than those with fewer years of education and lower income. The activities and tasks conducted on computers and cell phones were also more advanced.