Adoption, Use and Diffusion of Online Social Networks in the Older Population: a UK Perspective
Since households and businesses alike obtained the high-speed Internet service of broadband, the Internet has become integral to daily life in the 21st century. Advancements in information and Internet technology has led to the conception of novel internet- enabled applications such as, Online Social Networks (OSNs). Since the turn of the twenty first century fast-developing OSNs such as, Twitter and Facebook have become essential communication channels that people are using to develop their online personal and professional networks online. A recent phenomenon that is worrying countries around the globe is an ageing population. Due to recent improvements in the quality of life and advances in medicine, individuals are achieving longer life spans. Given the fact that older adults are also experiencing loneliness and depression, a recent solution to reduce this problem is the use of OSNs. Using these reasons as motivation, the aim of this research is to identify and understand the factors driving or inhibiting the adoption, use and diffusion of OSNs within the older population (50+) in UK households. In order to achieve this aim the Model of Online Social Networking (MOSN) was conceptually developed. Drawing upon the attitudinal, normative and control constructs from the leading Information Systems (IS) theories of the Diffusion of Innovations theory (DOI), Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Model of Adoption of Technology in Households (MATH) and the E-Services Adoption Model selected constructs were identified and formed. To achieve the aim, the conceptual framework (MOSN – Model of Online Social Networking) was initially empirically validated using primary data. A quantitative approach involving a small-scale online pilot survey (n-252) and a wide-scale online survey (n-1080) were used for this purpose. Findings revealed that that older individuals will adopt Internet technologies if technology-facilitating conditions such as ‘anytime access’ to Internet capable devices and a fast reliable Internet connection had significant positive effects on OSN intention. In terms of influences of peers, it was revealed that older individuals do consider and act upon the views of members in one’s social circle. Most significantly, the consequences of older adults efforts to preserve their own privacy enforces a vast majority of non-adopters from not taking part in the OSN uptake. In terms of diffusion it was found that messages about OSNs conveyed through media channels: TV, newspapers and magazines are having a negative impact on older adults intention to adopt OSNs. As little is known of the underlying factors effecting older individuals adoption or non-adoption and diffusion of OSNs this research contributes to an emerging body of knowledge through the identification of empirically supported factors found to be significantly influencing UK older adults decision making regarding OSN technology adoption. For those participants currently using OSNs an in-depth understanding of usage behavior is presented. Importantly this research addresses a gap in research relating to the household adoption of OSNs in older adults in the UK. Due to the limitations of time, finance and manpower research findings could not be nationally representative of the UK are only representative of a single group of society residing in an affluent area of the UK.