people. However, he cautioned that only a limited array of activities was tested and that the mouse speed was set at the slowest possible setting. Further, the sample included only novices. In general, the design of input devices is an area that needs research attention. This is especially true for people who are frail or have some type of hand or finger disability as they are likely to have different requirements with respect to input devices.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the effect of experience on performance. It may be that age differences on the performance of computer tasks are reduced or eliminated with extensive practice. Salthouse ( 1984) has shown that experience on a task can compensate for age-related declines in abilities. Attention to this issue is especially important with respect to computer tasks, as older people are much less likely than younger people to have had experience with these types of tasks.
The intent of this chapter was to outline some of the issues relevant to the use of computer technology by older adults. The information presented suggests that unless careful attention is given to the design of the user interface and the design of training strategies successful use of computers may prove difficult for older people. This is not to suggest that older people will not be able to use this technology. Clearly, existing data indicate that older people are willing and able to use computers. However, there is a need for more research in this area so that we can optimize their interactions with these types of systems. In this regard we need to translate theory regarding aging and cognition into guidelines for system design and test these designs with both younger and older user populations. Vast opportunities exist for more research in the area of aging and human-computer interaction.
Belbin E., & Belbin R. M. ( 1972). Problems in adult retraining. London: Heinman.
Charness N., & Bosman E. A. ( 1990). "Human factors and design for older adults". In J. E. Birren & K. W. Schaie (Eds.). Handbook of the psychology of aging ( 3rd ed., pp. 446-460). New York: Academic.