An Exploratory Study on the Characteristics of the Elderly Internet Addiction

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This document was presented at The 20th IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Seoul lat year.

As more seniors use the internet, so the issue of the internet addiction among seniors will be surfacing shortly, even though it is not yet. Elderly people could be more drawn to the internet and more vulnerable to internet addiction because of their physical, mental, financial, social conditions. But there are rarely studies on this issue so far. So this study is aimed at investigating the characteristics of the elderly people's internet addiction and helping them not be addicted to the internet and make good use of it as their leisure activities.

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An Exploratory Study on the Characteristics of the Elderly Internet Addiction

  1. 1. An Exploratory Study on the Elderly Internet Addiction 2013. 6. 25 Senior Researcher Jeong-hyeun Ko (National Information Society Agency)
  2. 2. Content 1. Background of Research 2. Objectives of Research 3. Method of Research 4. Results of Research 5. Conclusions 2
  3. 3. Prologue     3
  4. 4. Prologue Senior internet addiction case in China [KBS NEWS] This case is about internet game addict whom his son bought the computer, for his older mom seemed to be much bored and he wanted to give her something like amusements. At first she could not use the computer and internet. But she gradually got absorbed in the internet game, now skipping meals, she enjoys the game very much. The reporter says internet addiction among seniors becomes a new problem in China. 4
  5. 5. Prologue Senior internet addiction case in Korea [KBS]  He is also so indulged in the internet game that he has two PCs, spending approximately 36 thousand dollars to buy game items, and he doesn’t turn his eyes on his little granddaughter even though she visits him. Now his son regrets buying PC to his dad.  Do you think these are extremely abnormal cases that have nothing to do with or can hardly occur to ordinary seniors? 5
  6. 6. Prologue 6
  7. 7. Background of Research  The elderly who go online increase rapidly.(22.9%, 1.8million) elderly internet usage(60+, %) 16.5 21.8 17.6 19 22.9 20.1 11.9 10.1 5.2 2.3 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 < Source: 2011 status survey of Internet usage(KISA) 7 2011
  8. 8. Background of Research  The whole usage period is getting longer.(average 7 years) average internet usage period(month) 140 120 120 119 106.2 99.3 94.3 100 84.6 83.3 80 60 40 26.9 20 0 under 10 10s 20 30s 40s 50s over 60 average < Source: 2011 status survey of Internet usage(KISA) 8
  9. 9. Background of Research  The whole usage frequency is getting higher.(once a day, 63.2%) internet usage frequency more than once a day(%) 120 97.8 100 98.5 91.7 85.2 79.5 80 65 64.7 63.2 50s over 60 60 40 20 0 under 10 10s 20s 30s 40s average < Source: 2011 status survey of Internet usage(KISA) 9
  10. 10. Background of Research  It has been debated on how to define Internet addiction(IA) among scholars worldwide since IA occurred as a result of common use of Internet.  NIA defines IA as follows “status in which users who excessively connect on the Internet shows problematic symptoms of withdrawal and tolerance when they stop using Internet use, resulting in a situation where they must give up meaningful social and occupational activities in order to use Internet.” 10
  11. 11. Psychological factors Socio-environmental factors Loneliness and alienation Excessive survival competition Helplessness & low self-esteem Societal stress Depression Lack of alternative play culture Anxiety Unsound information culture Family-related factors Internet factors When parents show addiction trait Anonymity Parental attitudes of raising children Convenience in money, location, time Family breakup Fantasy, fun Lack of trust in & communication in family Speed, immediate response 11
  12. 12. The total incidence rate of Internet addiction (%) < Source: 2011 status survey of Internet addiction(NIA) >  7.7% of Korean Internet users between 5 and 49 were Internet addicts. 12
  13. 13. The most likely adult group of being addicted with Internet Whole adults 20s 30s 40s Under graduates Unmarried (adult) ₩1m or less (adult) < Source: 2011 status survey of Internet addiction(NIA) >  Adult students and unemployed adults tend to be more likely to be hooked on Internet than the total average. 13 Unemployed/ others
  14. 14.  Four distresses of the elderly Poverty Loneliness Rolelessness Sickness 14
  15. 15.  Because of their physical, mental, financial, social conditions, elderly people could be easily drawn to the internet and vulnerable to IA.  Older adults may suffer more harmful consequences of IA than the youth. IT Times 15
  16. 16.  Investigating the characteristics of the elderly people's internet addiction  Helping them not be addicted to the internet  Supporting them to make good use of it as their leisure activities. 16
  17. 17.  Survey target : 233 senior internet users aged over 55 who are learning and teaching how to use the internet in the senior community centers  Method : Online questionnaire survey method  Period : May, 2012  Tool : Questionnaire 17
  18. 18. Items of questionnaire survey categories demographic characteristics status of internet usage diagnosis of internet addiction psychological conditions influence of internet addiction leisure satisfaction item number 8 4 15 4 contents sex, age, occupation, marital status, familial status, educational background, income, role usage period, average usage time per a day, usage services, main usage services Korea Addiction Proneness for family relationships, personal relationship, extent of felling stress, extent of feeling lonely going through problems due to internet addiction or not, sort of problems(health, psychology, relationships, money) 1 Scale Adults(KS-A) whether 5 Internet extent of internet leisure satisfaction 18
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20.  First, the internet addiction rate in the elderly is 7.7%, which is the same as overall Korean internet addiction rate in 2011. sample number category % internet addiction group high risk group 2 0.8 potential risk group 16 6.9 ordinary usage group ordinary usage group 215 92.3 20 7.7%
  21. 21.  Second, single and couple / low income elderly households are more prone to the internet addiction. category total total sample % upper 25% sample % lower 25% sample % live alone 65 6 100 9.2 58 5 100 8.6 161 69.1 48 73.8 34 58.6 live with child 38 16.3 8 12.3 13 22.4 5 2.1 3 4.6 1 1.7 2 8 0.9 3.4 - - 1 4 1.7 6.9 below 1 million won monthly average household income 100 8.2 live only with spouse family 233 19 47 20.2 16 24.6 4 6.9 1~2 million won 65 27.9 18 27.7 18 31.0 200~300 million won 63 27.0 16 24.6 16 27.6 300~400 million won 37 15.9 11 16.9 10 17.2 400~500 million won 12 5.2 1 1.5 6 10.3 over 500 million won 9 21 3.9 3 4.6 4 6.9 live with child and grandchild live with grandchild live with parents
  22. 22.  Third, seniors who feel more satisfaction in relationship with family and others and less stress and loneliness are less vulnerable to internet addiction.  Finally, seniors who undergo problems from internet overuse, experience financial problems more than health, mentality, social relationship problems. 22
  23. 23.  The researcher is able to confirm that the elderly could be as addicted to the internet as the young and they have plausible conditions vulnerable to the internet addiction.  But as an exploratory study, my study has some limitations of small samples and using general adult scale, not tailored to the elderly. These limitations keep my study from exploring accurate characteristics of senior’s internet addiction. 23
  24. 24.  Senior internet addiction issue now lies underwater, but it seems about to rise up.  So it is required we pay new attention to senior internet addiction problem, and take preliminary actions in advance such as research, counseling, prevention education, training of professional staff. 24

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