Designing for the Elderly User: Internet Safety Training
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Type of Work190 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.
The following qualitative study examines the usability of a custom-designed Internet safety tutorial, targeted at elderly individuals who use the Internet regularly, for effectively conveying critical information regarding online fraud, scams, and other cyber security. The elderly population is especially at risk when it comes to fraudulent activity, both online and via other methods (mail, phone, etc.), which is why a safety tutorial of this nature could be extremely beneficial. Additionally, growth in the population of individuals over the age of 65 is boosting the number of elderly people using Internet technologies (desktop/laptop, SmartPhones, tablets, and other networked devices) to go online. In order to design appropriate training material for this demographic, research was undertaken regarding the older population's computer use, age-related physical and cognitive differences, vulnerability to scams, and efficacy of currently available training modules. Based on this research, age-specific design principles were developed and applied to an Internet safety tutorial, which was then tested on a selection of elderly participants. Design and delivery of the tutorial were effective; participants were able to complete the tutorial as intended and gave very positive feedback. Results of the usability testing indicated that users over age 65 already have some basic understanding of Internet threats, either from personal experience or via training through an employer. Therefore, the target age group for further testing may need to be adjusted upward by 5-10 years to filter out seniors who recently exited the workforce and do not need the basic level of training. However, specialized training on the topic areas of safe browsing, safe emailing, safe shopping, etc., would be beneficial to all elderly users, especially if broken down by experience level (novice, intermediate, expert). Minor adjustments to the design, as well as the addition of leveled training options, would be an ideal solution to providing the right information to the right users.