Mobile telephony is the most widespread information and communication technology (ITC) and follows the same trend as other ICTs: those who show typically slower rates of adoption are older individuals. It is relevant, therefore, to explore the motivations and reasons that seniors have for not-adopting or adopting mobile telephony.
To do this, I focus on two cities: Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) and Los Angeles (CA, USA). In Catalonia, up to 95% of the average population are mobile users, while among seniors the figure drops to 82% (age 65-74; Idescat, 2011). In the USA, the percentage of mobile users is 85% for the average population and 68% for seniors between 66 and 74 (Zickuhr,2011). In a context where this technology is so widely used, those who ‘opt out’ are often put into a position where they need to justify their decision. These people often face social pressures to be “reachable” by their mobile phones in the same way others are.
In 2010 and 2011, semi-structured interviews were conducted with both mobile users and non-users. Within this non-probabilistic sample, a majority of individuals were mobile users, and 11 individuals out of 73 were non users.
Among non-users, some people had never owned a cell phone and others gave their phone up at a certain point. The goal of this analysis is not to put forward recommendations for increasing mobile subscription among older people, but to understand personal choices regarding this specific technology. I approach this analysis by taking into account that, nowadays, not having a cell phone in the two studied cities might mean the person without the phone has taken a firm stance on the issue.
Idescat (2011): ICT equipment and use in homes 2011. Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat). http://www.idescat.cat/pub/?id=ticll11&lang=en (05/05/2012).
Zickuhr, K. (2011): Generations and their gadgets 2011, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Generations-and-gadgets.aspx (02/04/2012).