Neophobia is the fear of new things. For some people, this means that using the internet, which is rapidly becoming a centerpiece of many people’s lives, is a frightening experience. A recent study, carried out by British Telecom showed that some people found using the internet to be just as stressful as first-time bungee jumping. The company is now doing further research in an attempt to determine if these barriers are something that can be overcome, or if there is something more fundamental blocking novices from embracing the internet age.
Participants in the study will be closely monitored by psychologists. They will take physiological readings of the participants as they use the net, in an attempt to determine how their bodies and minds react to the experience. In the process, each participant will be given access to technology and instruction and coaching in what they can do with it. Each has been given a broadband connection, a laptop, and web-cam, and a digital camera. They will record their experiences, which will then be viewable on the project’s website.
The interesting thing to me will be to attempt to gain some level of understanding of people who have a difficult time making use of technology I take for granted. I have never found I faced any particular mental barriers to making use of new technology, but I have certainly known those who did. I hope that being able to read the results of this study will help me to understand where those people are coming from.