Older Americans Are Being Left on the Roadside Of the Information Highway

REDMOND, Wash., March 4, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced research findings that show a
“digital divide,”
or the growing gap between computer users and nonusers, significantly affecting older Americans. While approximately 50 percent of Americans own and use computers, only 24 percent of seniors (ages 60 and older) do. These statistics show that computer use among senior citizens is less than half that of the general population. The research was conducted to better understand and quantify the sociological impact of the digital divide and was unveiled at the 45th annual conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA) in Orlando, Fla.

“People are living longer and healthier lives, but as technology becomes more a part of our daily lives, seniors are being left out of the information age,” said Craig Spiezle, director of the Microsoft® Senior Initiative.
“This research demonstrates that, with services like Social Security and Medicare moving onto the Internet, the need to bridge the gap and provide seniors with the tools they need to access the information highway is greater than ever.”

The research demonstrated that despite the large gap, seniors recognize the benefits of computers and the Internet. However, they do not associate those benefits with their needs. Microsoft is using these findings to develop programs and work with organizations, such as ASA, that offer seniors the chance to learn computer technology so they can see for themselves how this technology can benefit them.

“As the world’s population ages, understanding the implications of aging is crucial. With Microsoft’s initiative and leadership, the issue of seniors embracing technology is gaining national attention,”
said Gloria Cavanaugh, executive director of the American Society on Aging.
“Like ASA and Microsoft, other government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporations must work together to expand computer literacy and access to senior citizens, allowing seniors to realize the benefits of computers and the Internet.”

“Through our experience, we know that seniors have both the desire and ability to learn and use technology. In fact, seniors find it liberating to be able to explore new interests, such as seeking employment and sharing their knowledge and experiences with family and community,”
Spiezle said.
“It’s time to dispel the myths about seniors and technology. Seniors are not ‘technophobic.'”

Survey findings also yielded the following information:

  • Eighty-two percent of seniors believe computer literacy is essential for educational success.

  • Seventy-five percent agree computer skills are important for enhanced or continued employability.

  • Thirty-four percent of senior computer users state that work-related projects and personal correspondence are their reasons for computer use; 21 percent cite searching the Internet; 15 percent cite games and entertainment as their reasons for using a computer.

  • Seniors cited other important benefits of technology, including financial success
    (69 percent), cultural knowledge (67 percent), independent living (52 percent) and social acceptance (46 percent).

  • Eighty-nine percent of computer users and 83 percent of nonusers believe libraries and community colleges are places where older adults can learn more about computers. However, 70 percent of seniors stated that not enough senior-friendly training programs are offered.

The Research Department, an independent marketing research firm, conducted
606 in-depth telephone interviews with senior citizens reflecting the U.S. population. Microsoft commissioned the research in conjunction with the ASA. The plus or minus margin of error was 2.4 percent to 4.0 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level. Microsoft and ASA began their strategic alliance in early 1998, dedicated to creating programs promoting computer literacy for seniors. Microsoft currently participates on ASA’s Business Forum on Aging and its Governing Council.

The Microsoft Senior Initiative is a program aimed at bridging the digital divide and ensuring that seniors are not left on the side of the information highway. By providing access to information technology and PC literacy training, the Microsoft Senior Initiative is introducing the exciting possibilities of technology to senior citizens. The Seniors & Technology Web site is a resource for seniors, their families and communities about the exciting possibilities that can be realized through the use of technology.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing the full research findings or additional information about the Microsoft Senior Initiative, please visit the Microsoft Senior Initiative Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/seniors/. If you are interested in viewing additional

information about Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. If you are interested in viewing more information about the American Society on Aging, please visit the ASA Web site at http://www.asaging.org/ .

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