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Older-adult HCI: Why Should We Care?


What if older adults just aren’t interested in computers? It’s a question I get often, though increasingly with a slight hesitation—almost as though the asker intuits, but cannot quite pinpoint, a flaw in the inquiry. Most are satisfied if I merely point out that while many might not be interested, others are, and the goal is to design for them. It’s an easy answer and thus one that I, along with many others, am guilty of providing.

The problem is this answer is only partially correct. Yes, there are older adults who would like to adopt technology but find they cannot (perhaps due to a physical, sensory, or cognitive barrier). However, many others would quite like to reject technology but find themselves confronted with an increasingly digital world. Focusing on only one part of the answer risks underselling the importance and need for work in this latter space.