Assistance seeking behaviour in older persons regarding the use of their mobile phones
Scholtz, Salome Elizabeth
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The older-person population is estimated to reach two billion in 2050 with two thirds living in developing countries. In South Africa, the prevalence of HIV is a large contributor to lowered fertility and, therefore, the country‟s ageing population. A growing older population can have various implications for the country, families, as well as older persons themselves. These implications can be managed by mobile phones, which have become an important tool in easing changes associated with late adulthood. Literature shows older persons face various difficulties when employing this tool in their lives. This puts them at risk of losing the benefits that mobile phones could contribute to their life and experience. Older persons have, however, devised a plan to overcome these difficulties, which is to ask for assistance with their mobile phones. Research on older persons‟ use of mobile phones and this assistance seeking behaviour is limited, especially in a South-African context. Therefore, this secondary study (secondary-data analysis) explored the assistance seeking behaviour in older persons when using their mobile phones through describing who they ask for assistance and why they ask these specific persons for assistance with their mobile phones. The theoretical underpinning for this study was Social Cognitive Learning Theory (to describe older persons‟ behaviour and motives) and the Social Convoy Model (to described older persons‟ social environment). This study was derived from data collected by a primary study, namely the IGNITe project that used a parallel mixed methods research design to explore older persons‟ mobile-phone usage patterns and how this technology influences intergenerational relationships. As this secondary study is qualitative only, the qualitative data from the primary study were used. The study consisted of a purposive sample (n=52) aged 65 to 89 years. The Mmogo-Method® (n=19) and semi-structured interviews (n=33) were used to gain data of who older persons ask for assistance and why they ask these specific people. Audio-recordings of the data-gathering procedure were transcribed, and textual data was used to identify themes through thematic analysis. Participants identified, friends, children, grandchildren, community members, family members as well as service providers personnel as the persons they usually turn to when seeking assistance when using functions on their mobile phones. As to why older persons chose these persons, data showed close interpersonal relationships, transmission of appropriate technical knowledge, proximal person, a willingness to assist and unsupportive service provider personnel as determining aspects. From the findings, it is clear that older persons are active in choosing persons to assist them with their mobile phones by assessing their needs and choosing a helper accordingly with the above mentioned themes as key motivators. These themes could play a role in promoting effective learning of mobile-phone skills and in encouraging older persons‟ self-efficacy. Close interpersonal relationships show the most promise of dispelling beliefs that could lower self-efficacy regarding mobile phones and promote the effective adoption of mobile-phone skills. Service providers, however, do not form part of promoting older persons use or self-efficacy regarding mobile phones as their assistance doesn‟t correspond with the lived experiences of participants. Therefore the researcher recommends that service providers use these findings to improve their services as an attempt to accommodate or encourage older persons‟ use of mobile phones. Further research is recommended to gain insight from the perspective of the persons providing assistance to older persons with their mobile phones.
- Humanities