Helsinki, 1 October, 2004
People Over Fifty in Finland as Users of Internet
The service sector in Finland is slowly but surely transforming itself towards Internet based services. Even though the idea is not to transfer in a hurry all public sector services to the Internet, the trend is clearly visible, and people of all ages venture to participate in the information society by using modern technology.
That became evident in the study conducted by Helena Tuorila, Senior Researcher with National Consumer Research Center of Finland.
The study examines what kinds of positive and negative attitudes and experiences are associated with the use of online services. Study data include an inquiry addressed to the members of the National Consumer Centerís consumer panel as well as their interviews, and interviews of elderly consumers from the city of Oulu in Northern Finland.
For Useful Purposes Above All
According to the results of the study, people aged over fifty years use the Internet actively, however, not for prolonged periods of time. The Internet and network connections are basically used for various utility purposes, not for trivial entertainment. The most common uses are e-mail correspondence with family members, friends, or fellow workers, Internet banking, and surfing motivated by general need for information. This age groupís Internet users consider themselves having solid command of the programs and functions they generally use. Yet, there is considerable demand for information technology training that would take into account the specific needs common for ageing individuals.
People over fifty find that the Internet makes it easier and faster for them to take care of daily shopping and banking matters, as well as reducing related expenses. Nevertheless, they would not want to transfer all matters needed to be dealt with the authorities to the Internet. They continue to regard personal service as important. Moreover, they see the Internet as broadening their worldview and bringing new content into life. In their opinion, the Internet does not alienate people from their immediate surroundings; quite the contrary, what ever alienation there may be, it is due to other factors.
Communications Costs Concern to a Point
Consumers consider the use of the Internet to be expensive. Still, they had not needed to give up anything important because of the cost of the Internet connection. Yet, the consumers feel that there should be wider availability of public, free-of-charge, and easily accessible Internet terminals. On the other hand, they do accept that the society is not expected to finance free Internet connections for all its citizens; paying for the connection is the citizenís own responsibility. However, as more and more services are transferred to the Internet, the aged citizens think that the society should see to it that all its members have equal access to the use of these services. In addition to availability, good data security on the Internet is a highly regarded aspect.
People who do not use the Internet are not considered to be in an equal position with Internet users Ė for example, with respect to their chances of obtaining information. Internet non-users are considered to be, in fact, at a risk of becoming excluded from the information society. Yet, the ageing participants in the study, the non-users of the Internet, did not particularly feel that they had been left behind in the progress of information society.
Helena Tuorila, Senior Researcher
National Consumer Research Center Finland
Tel. +358-9-7726 7733
Telefax +358-9-7726 7715
http://www.National Consumer ResearchCenterFinland