Featured DASH Work 

Acceptance of Mobile Technology by Older Adults: A Preliminary Study

By Sunyoung Kim, Krzysztof Z. Gajos, Michael Muller, and Barbara J. Grosz

Feature by Sarah Arena, Open Access Fellow and graduate student at Simmons University School of Library and Information Science

In “Acceptance of Mobile Technology by Older Adults: A Preliminary Study,” Sunyoung Kim, Krzysztof Gajos, Michael Muller, and Barbara Grosz offer a new model for understanding how adults over the age of 60 adopt to mobile technologies for chronic conditions and care management. The authors interviewed 24 older adults, 16 of whom use a mobile technology to meet a healthcare need, including weight management, depression, diabetes, and physical fragility; another 8 interviewees had chosen not to adopt mobile technologies for healthcare management. 

The resulting technology acceptance model for older adults offers a four phase process for technology adoption: 1) intention to use, 2) intention to learn, 3) actual system experimentation, and 4) accepting or rejecting the technology. The authors identified perception of learning, the second phase, as a new element in which older adults must be interested in learning a new technology and perceive it to be within their ability to learn. Factors that play into learning a new technology include self-efficacy (the belief in one's ability to use the technology), conversion readiness (the interest to depart from existing ways of doing things), and peer support (having an age-peer who can teach a new technology). These factors acknowledge the emotional implications of technology adoption, such as the fear of appearing foolish or giving up the prestige and security of life-long skills.

The authors use these findings to recommend social and physical changes that could help promote mobile technology adoption. Given the importance of peer support, older adults could lead community technology classes for adults without technologically savvy social networks. Marketing campaigns should consider advertising the uses and benefits of a technology for older adults, such as communicating with grandchildren or managing chronic health conditions. Adoption could also be facilitated by designing devices that use familiar terminology, layouts, and modalities that are already known by older adults.

Krzysztof Gajos is the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Professor Gajos’ research interests include human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence and applied machine learning, and he has 45 works published in DASH.



Barbara Grosz is the Higgins Research Professor of Natural Sciences. Professor Grosz’s research in artificial intelligence focuses on natural language processing and theories of multi-agent collaboration and their application to human-computer interaction. Professor Grosz has 66 works published in DASH.



Songyun Kim was a postdoctoral fellow for the Center for Research on Computation and Society at the time of this article’s publication.