I chose to focus my topic around aging adults and communication media based on experiences I’ve had in working with this audience. I work at a nursing home and we always have to write things down for residents or show them where the information is printed for them to find it. If you walk through the halls you are not going to see residents sitting at computers on Facebook or Twitter or texting on their cell phones or surfing the internet for news. I wanted to research this topic to find out if there was research out there on this topic and why older adults don’t use technology as a communication medium as much as younger generations and if there was a specific reason for it. Research showed that current generations of elders along with previous generations are considered to be heavy users of traditional “classical” media products, like TV and radio. I also found that the elderly population owns less up-to-date information and communication products.
Reasons to look at this topic include the increased usage of internet mediums to distribute information, the lack of familiarity among older adults with new technology, and the time investment needed from older adults to learn how to use new technologies.
Some reseach indicates things to expect from tomorrow’s generation of elders which would be the baby boomers. They suggest that they will be considerably different in their use of wireless and assistive technologies in terms of the frequency in which they use them. Meaning they expect baby boomers will be among early adopters of technology and expect it to be available to them.
Issues that occur as adults age that will impact their ability to use technology include decreased psychomotor functioning which would make keystrokes and wrist movement difficult along. This issue is expected to increase in the next 20 years and impact far more seniors with no real cure and only minimal pain control.
This all leads into a controversy of weather or not new technology will continue to be popular with baby boomers and future generations or if the impact of aging will limit their abilities to use technology.
Conflicting research suggests that the elderly tend to use mass media like tv and newspapers more than younger groups. This supports research that claims newspapers are the top media source for elders but there is a belief that television is starting to replace newspapers for elders. Will this change to internet newspapers?
There are some things that we can do to alter visual media for older adults. Using a visual interface with larger type fonts and higher contrast ratios and avoiding violets blues and greens should help make things more acceptable for aging eyes.
Audio media can be altered by using sounds in a 5 to 4 kH range and sounding tones at a loud decible. Also avoid or reduce background noise and speak slowly and use mid level frequencies to help elders comprehend your message.
This slide along with the next three have tips for altering the design and content of media sources to help increase the level of comprehension by older adults that use such media sources.
There is a substantial amount of research that explains what happens to adults as they age and how communication media can be altered to better fit them as a key audience. The largest bit of information lacking from all the research is how aging adults use the internet and where exactly they will get their information. We know for many years the primary source of information had been newspapers and it is believed that television is now a top mass media source for aging adults but where will the aging adults of tomorrow get their information? Will they become accustomed to social media and follow news on Twitter or Facebook? The bright side– I found a lot of useful tips for altering information to be more pleasing to older adults.
How Can Communication Media be Altered for Aging Adults A Literature Review Presentation COMM 385-01 Media Relations Metropolitan State University Allyson Linden
Aging Adults and CommunicationMedia The current generations of elders along with previous generations of the aged population are considered to be heavy users of traditional “classical” media products, such as television and radio. “Regarding the possession and usage of media technology in the households, elderly (in this case 50+) significantly own fewer up-to-date information, communication and entertainment products such as widescreen TV sets, MP3 players, or computer technology and broadband internet (ACTA 2007).” (Dogruel, 2010)
Factors to Consider Internet mediums are becoming more popular Today’s aging adults (typically considered age 55+) are not familiar with new technology It takes longer for aging adults to learn new technologies
Tomorrow’s Generation of Elders Tomorrow’s elders with disabilities will differ considerably from their predecessors in their use of wireless technologies, including how frequently they use them. In a 2003 study of 665 people with disabilities, 51% of those aged 40-59 years said they used their cell phone every day, while 35% of those 60 or older said that they used their mobile phone only for emergency situations (Mann et. al. 2004).” (Jones, 2010)
The Controversy- Background Psychomotor functioning decreases with age from several possible different conditions. This can make finger movement on a keyboard, gripping a stylus, moving the wrist to manipulate a pointing device and more gross movement such as reaching for a pointing device, or moving a light pen across a monitor with subsequently related elbow and shoulder movement more difficult. (Holley, 2004) “The number of older adults in the United States with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms is expected to reach 41 million by 2030.” (Holley, 2004)
The Controversy- Question The struggle is in trying to find out if new technology really will continue to be popular with baby boomers or if they will encounter the same challenges as their elder predecessors that strongly impacted their abilities to use technology. Will medicine and technology advance together in a way that will prevent aging adults from being limited in their abilities to use technology?
Conflicting Research “Many studies have found that the elderly tend to use mass media, especially newspapers and TV, to a larger degree than younger groups” Older people choose media based on the value of information and not entertainment. This supports newspapers as the top media source for elders There is also still a belief that television might be replacing newspapers for elders
Altering Visual Media Add a visual interface to use larger type fonts with higher contrast ratios; most computer operating systems already have this kind of technology. Seniors experience reduced color sensitivity in the range of violets, blues and greens. (Holley, 2004) Avoid using these colors.
Altering Audio Media When focusing on a senior population research shows that “Using sounds in the, 5 to 4 kilohertz range (Willot, 1991) and sounding tones at relatively loud decibel levels should help.” (Holley, 2004) If speech sounds are used in an interface, maintaining mid-frequencies will help the comprehension of older adults. Rate of speech and background noise has a differential effect on older as compared to younger adults.
Tips for Altering the Design ofdifferent Media sources Break information into short sections Minimize the use of jargon and technical terms Use 12- or 14-point type size, and make it easy for users to enlarge text Use high-contrast color combinations Such as black type against a white background Provide a speech function to hear text read aloud
Tips for Altering DesignContinued Provide text-only versions of multimedia content Minimize scrolling Make it clear how the information on the website is organized Keep the website structure simple and straightforward Group related topics visually Write a clear, informative heading for each section
Tips for Altering Content for ElderAudiences Limit the number of points you make Put the key message first Keep paragraphs and sentences short Write in the active voice Write in the positive Be direct Give specific instructions If the instructions have more than one step, number them
Tips for Altering ContentContinued Address your web users by using “you” Choose words your web users know Define unfamiliar terms Provide summary information Avoid using italics Put all text in uppercase and lowercase letters; never use all capitals.
So What? How do aging adults use the internet and where exactly do they get their information? Where will the aging adults of tomorrow get their information? Will they become accustomed to social media and follow news on Twitter or Facebook? Let’s be honest Facebook is not exactly user- friendly for seniors but could we get them there?