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Who says that old dogs cannot learn new tricks? A survey of internet/web usage among seniors

Primoz Juznic (Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Maja Blazic (Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Tanja Mercun (Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Barbara Plestenjak (Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Darko Majcenovic (National and University Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 July 2006

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Abstract

Purpose

In our modern society there is a prevailing belief that computers and the internet are mainly used by younger generations, who grew up with modern technology, and are generally all information literate. However, research shows that through the past ten years more and more older people have started to learn how to use computers and, of course, how to use the internet. The aim of this paper is to investigate and analyse internet usage among seniors on the basis of a case study showing the actual situation in Slovenia.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was carried out among seniors, the participants of different Third Age University programmes, by using a questionnaire, designed for this study. This particular group of seniors was chosen because they lead more active lifestyle than average seniors and the results should be more relevant. Participating in these programmes means they are eager to learn new things and that they have access to computers.

Findings

It was found that among the seniors, Third Age University participants, only one third were active internet users. It was less than expected, as Slovenia has quite high internet usage among its citizens. Education and partly age were important factors in defining internet use. Public libraries can play a particularly important role in offering information literacy courses, offering space and others services to them, but this was not confirmed by the results of this study.

Research limitations/implications

The paper tried to establish the situation with a case study in Slovenia, a new EU member but also one of the European countries with the greatest use of internet and web. Digital divide, differences along the criteria of age, might be more important than elsewhere.

Originality/value

Use of internet and web will become more and more wide‐spread and problems with social groups left out will be more visible and will have negative implications on equality of all citizens. Seniors as a social group are especially vulnerable and need help. Libraries can and must find new services with initiatives that promote the reduction of digital divide among age groups.

Keywords

Citation

Juznic, P., Blazic, M., Mercun, T., Plestenjak, B. and Majcenovic, D. (2006), "Who says that old dogs cannot learn new tricks? A survey of internet/web usage among seniors", New Library World, Vol. 107 No. 7/8, pp. 332-345. https://doi.org/10.1108/03074800610677308

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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