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Adults 65 and older are adapting to technology at a slower rate compared to the overall population. Research has shown that programs can assist older adults in learning and embracing technology. However, little information exists about what specific forms of technology older adults are interested in learning and for what purposes. To describe areas of technology older adults are interested in learning and why this study examined qualitative data from an intergenerational service-learning program in which students in higher education assist and mentor older adults with and about technology that older adults want to learn. Data was analyzed from in-depth observation logs maintained by students after each educational session. Eight themes emerged related to areas of technology older adults were interested in learning about: basic functions, staying connected, organization, leisure, managing photos, productivity, managing money, and health. Of the 827 total phrases coded, the top themes related to technology use were: basic function (28%), staying connected (23%), and organization (15%). The majority of older adults requested help with their devices’ basic functions, including an orientation to mobile devices, tablet and/or computer, making tactile functions easier, creating accounts, setting and restoring passwords, and understanding basic cyber security. Findings from this study reinforce that older adults are interested in learning the technology basics, which may lead to utilization of technology for social, civic, and productive engagement purposes in addition to managing health. This study provides valuable information for organizations that help older adults learn technology and for entities that design technology or want to increase technology adoption for older adults.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Dara L. LoBuono is from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

Skye Leedahl is from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Department of Political Science.

Elycia Maiocco is from the Health Studies Program.