Perceptions of computer learning among older Americans and older Chinese

Bo Xie


This study examines, compares, and contrasts older Americans’ and older Chinese’s perceptions of computer learning. Semi–structured, open–ended interviews were conducted among members of two senior–oriented computer training organizations: SeniorNet in the U.S. and OldKids (lao xiaohai) in China. Major findings include: first, American and Chinese participants share a similar, strong interest in learning in general and computer learning in particular, because they agree that computers present constant mental challenges and thus are useful for keeping the mind active, which suggests a non–culturally specific phenomenon. Second, for American participants, the computer is one of many means to keep the mind active, while for Chinese participants, the computer is the most important means to this end. Finally, for some older Chinese participants, computer learning is perceived as a means to fulfill old dreams that were interrupted by the Cultural Revolution, suggesting a culturally specific phenomenon. Implications and future research questions are discussed.

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