Human actions are mediated by tools, which can be external (e.g., a hammer or a computer) or internal (e.g., concepts and plans) [1
]. Likewise, our experiences are neither independent of the tools we use nor of our perceptions. According to Heidegger [2
], for example, technology is connected with the revelation of reality and truth. Nevertheless, the mediating nature of technology also bears drawbacks. Ihde [3
] declared that technology usage is not neutral and depicted that there is also a concealed transformation of users’ experience and perceived reality for each enhancement the mediating technologies provide. Several internal factors can affect the experience, hence influence the way people value, accept, or reject technologies. As it becomes apparent from Plato’s cave allegory [4
] and Indirect Realism [5
], there is a continuous discussion going on about how our conceptions of the world are mediated by perception.
Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) is constantly evolving. Starting from the First Wave, based on the science of cognition and human factors, through the Second Wave and its focus on groups of users, it further advanced during the Third Wave to include issues of culture, emotions, experiences, and meaning-making [6
]. During that course, philosophical foundations have been embedded in technology orientation and design, embracing users’ needs for personal development. Existentialism, for instance, based on the axiom that every human is responsible for himself/herself, thus having almost unlimited potentials for self-actualization, has been proposed as a visionary framework for understanding individuals and their relationship with technology [8
Self-actualization and personal development are related to one’s recollections. Older adults’ personal memories help them build a sense of identity and continuity to the self [9
]. Due to literature, identity construction and maintenance are further promoted by sharing memories with others, storytellers’ narratives can vary across different cultures, and people constantly revise their life stories, which makes identity formation a life-long procedure [10
]. Notably, healthy individuals sometimes recollect memories of events that never happened. This malfunction of our memory system perhaps addresses our needs related to the self as well as to our social interactions [11
]. From a technological perspective, it has been proposed that memory recording interventions should promote users’ creativity and active engagement instead of passively capturing segments of their activities for remembering [12
]. Going a step further, digital platforms related to reminiscence and storytelling are apparently beneficial for older adults’ well-being (e.g., [13
During the last decades, the older adults’ population has been increasing worldwide. It has been estimated that in 2050, the number of people aged 65 years and older will have doubled compared to the current demographics. At that time, according to the World Health Organization [15
], Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and Greece will be the countries with the greatest proportions of older inhabitants within their adult populations. However, digital technology usage by older people still remains low compared to younger generations and, also, Internet use by older Greek adults is one of the lowest within the European Union [16
]. This digital inequality within society excludes technology non-users from essential resources considering information, communication, and personal growth.
Technology is not culturally neutral [17
] and older adults’ choice of adopting or rejecting a new technology is not always due to usability issues [19
]. During the last years, studies about older adults and memories (e.g., [21
]), loneliness (e.g., [23
]), and Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (e.g., [24
]) have been common in the HCI field. Hence, in this exploratory paper, which is an extension of our previous article [25
], we try to gain further insights into the implicit factors that might correlate with older Greek adults’ conceptions upon learnability, usability, and ease-of-use of online technologies by focusing on a web 2.0 platform for reminiscing and storytelling. The research questions that guide this work are as follows:
RQ1. Which implicit factors correlate with older Greek adults’ perceived ease-of-use of web 2.0 storytelling technologies?
RQ2. Which implicit factors correlate with older Greek adults’ perceived learnability of web 2.0 storytelling technologies?
RQ3. Which implicit factors correlate with older Greek adults’ perceived usability of web 2.0 storytelling technologies?
The findings of this project contribute to the field of HCI by probing the relationships between older Greek adults’ psychosocial attributes and their perceptions that determine technology adoption. To the best of our knowledge, there is no similar research in literature.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2
provides an overview of the related literature and the research hypotheses. Section 3
describes the methodology and the procedure that was followed. The results are presented in Section 4
and are discussed in Section 5
. Limitations and future work are proposed in Section 6
, followed by the conclusion section (Section 7
4.1. Descriptive Statistics
The final sample comprised of 112 older adults (42% male, 58% female) whose age ranged from 60 to 80 years (mean: 66.96, SD: 4.98). Regarding the highest level of formal education received, data showed that 10 (9%) had rounded Primary Education, 6 (5%) and 15 (13%) had graduated from Lower and Upper Secondary Education respectively, 32 (29%) had a vocational training certificate, and 47 (42%) had at least one University degree. As for the hardware they had been using to access the Internet, 46 (41%) respondents mentioned using their desktop PC, 65 (58%) their laptop, 56 (50%) their tablet, and 89 (79%) their smartphone.
Their loneliness scores were between 21 and 64 (initial scale range: 20–80, mean: 36.96, SD: 8.77) and their scores on the FTP scale were between 10 and 67 (initial scale range: 10–70, mean: 37.43, SD: 14.20). Perceived ease-of-use (initial scale range: 1–5, mean: 3.17, SD: 1.35) and learnability (initial scale range: 1–5, mean: 3.25, SD: 1.15) values ranged from 1 to 5. As for the SUS scores, they ranged from 0 to 100 (initial scale range: 0–100, mean: 57.34, SD: 21.69).
4.2. Correlations between Variables
According to the results, there was a negative relationship between perceived ease-of-use and users’ chronological age (H1, r = −0.160, p < 0.05). There was also a statistically valid negative relationship with loneliness (H2, r = −0.210, p < 0.05) and a positive relationship with future time perspective (H3, r = 0.355, p < 0.001).
Regarding H2, participants’ perceived learnability negatively correlated with their chronological age (H4, r = −0.269, p < 0.01). Additionally, a positive relationship was found with future time perspective (H6, r = 0.216, p < 0.05), but not with loneliness (H5, r = −0.119, n.s.).
As for H3, perceived usability was negatively associated with loneliness (H8, r = −0.234, p < 0.01) and positively related to future time perspective (H9, r = 0.329, p < 0.001). However, no valid correlation was observed with chronological age (H7, r = −0.125, n.s.).
The findings are presented in detail in Table 2
and the statistically valid correlations can be seen in Figure 3
In general, the outcomes of this study focus on the relationships between two groups of variables: users’ chronological age and specific psychosocial perceptions on the one hand and perceived usability, learnability, and ease-of-use on the other hand. Analogous research prompts have been suggested within the multidisciplinary field of Gerontechnology [30
] and the broader discipline of HCI [6
The results obtained suggest that users’ chronological age does not affect their perceived usability, which contradicts Bangor et al. [65
] findings. This outcome opposes the stereotype that new technologies and older people do not get along and is congruent with Hauk et al. [39
] suggestions that age-effects are present only for technologies that do not respond to older people’s needs. Another possible explanation for the aforementioned contradiction could be related to the cultural differences between the research samples, which is a factor that often affects usability [64
]. However, in contrast to the study of Jimoh et al. [53
], in the current project chronological age is negatively related to perceived ease-of-use, confirming Porter and Donthu’s [52
] findings. Similarly, the negative correlation found between age and learnability seems to come along with the outcomes of Baldi’s [56
] and Kelley and Charness’s [57
Loneliness correlated with older users’ SUS scores, denoting that the lonelier the user is, the lower his/her score is on perceived usability. Though from a different perspective, this relationship is consistent and extends Cenfetelli’s [35
] conclusions regarding the role of emotions on technology usage, as well as Díaz-Prieto and García-Sánchez’s [36
] findings regarding older adults’ feelings of loneliness and web 2.0 usage patterns. Additionally, loneliness correlation with ease-of-use supports similar findings in the literature (e.g., [34
]) regarding the link between loneliness and older adults’ cognition deficits. Nevertheless, in contrast to the connection of loneliness with older adults’ motivation to learn [33
], as well as Berduzco-Torres et al. [60
] reported a link between loneliness and learning, the relationship between older adults’ loneliness and learnability was not valid in the current project.
As for the FTP and its relationship with usability, ease-of-use, and learnability, the confirmation of the analogous hypotheses supports previous findings related to users’ subjective evaluation of time [27
] and, most importantly, it seems to extend Socioemotional Selectivity Theory. In particular, the subjective estimation of time left in someone’s life is positively associated not only with his/her motives towards knowledge-based activities but also with the results of knowledge-based processes, such as the perceived usability, learnability, and ease-of-use of a technology. Despite the connection that often appears in the literature between FTP and chronological age [26
], only FTP was related to the SUS scores in the current study.
The discussions taking place in the field of HCI have implied an intersection between technology, philosophy, personal development, and emotions [2
]. Furthermore, the needs and preferences of distinct groups of users, such as the elderly population, increasingly gain significant attention from designers and scholars (e.g., [21
During the last decades, the older adults’ population has constantly been growing [15
]. However, technology adoption still lacks compared to younger generations and, notably, older Greek adults are one of the groups that are the least connected to the Internet compared to their European peers [16
]. Based on the literature, it appears that culture [47
] and psychosocial attributes [30
] can affect users’ perceptions upon several issues, ranging from feelings of loneliness to technology usability and acceptance. Thus, this project aimed at exploring the potential relationship between (i) older Greek adults’ age, feelings of loneliness, and future time perspective and (ii) their perceived usability, learnability, and ease-of-use of a web application, in order to gain further insights into the elements that might affect technology adoption and usage. For this purpose, a digital storytelling prototype was demonstrated to 112 participants and an online structured questionnaire was implemented for data collection. According to the results, participants’ chronological age negatively correlated with learnability and ease-of-use, their feelings of loneliness negatively correlated with their perceived usability and ease-of-use, whereas future time perspective positively correlated with usability, learnability, and ease-of-use.
These findings could help technology designers, adult educators, and caregivers better understand the implicit interactions between older adults and web 2.0 tools, in order to promote the privileges derived from the acceptance and use of these innovations.