Our Projects

The TAGteam consists of talented individuals with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, human-computer interaction, human factors, graphic and interface design, psychology and sociology.

Improving the On-Line Safety of Older Canadian Adults

Understanding and Removing Barriers to Technology Adoption

Older adults (65+) are often considered to be technologically less savvy than the average population, particularly with respect to using online applications. This can have negative consequences for their financial, health, and well being, by hindering their access to resources such as online banking, relevant health information, and connections with family members and friends. The 2011 Census indicate that 66% of such adults are daily Internet users; as such, it is important to also protect older adults’ online safety and privacy – especially since seniors are a significant target of Internet scams or email phishing attacks. Solutions have been proposed to address this significant problem; however, these are not widely reaching – just in one year alone, older Canadian adults have lost an estimated $10 million to Internet scams. At the same time, several studies indicate that numerous seniors are or feel socially isolated. This two seemingly independent issues may be in fact co-dependent: our own participatory design sessions have revealed that seniors rely on their social network for support with Internet-related security problems and that they avoid many online activities due to cybersafety concerns, while previous research showed how mass-media is an important source of (scary) cybersafety-related information for seniors. On the other hand, there is very little understanding of why seniors are disproportionately falling victim to online threats, despite the availability of various technologies that block such threats (e.g. browser add-ons).

This project is looking at solutions to improve the online safety and privacy of older adults through increased adoption of digital security technologies, such as browser add-ons or email filters. Particularly, we study the causes underlying the low adoption of such technologies, and how their interfaces can be redesigned to help increase older adults’ awareness of security threats and to empower them to take control of their online security. We also investigate if and how the current ecosystem of design paradigms, interfaces, services, and knowledge create a vicious circle: seniors’ cybersafety is at risk without social support, while their online participation (shopping, gaming, social networking) is affected by cybersafety fears, which can potentially widen the digital divide faced by seniors and further reduce their isolation.

Publications

There are no publications for this project

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