The Meaning of Computers to a Group of Men Who Are Homeless

Kathleen Swenson Miller, Stacey Bunch-Harrison, Brett Brumbaugh, Rekha Sankaran Kutty and Kathleen FitzGerald

April 2005

The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the experience with computers and the meaning of computers to a group of homeless men living in a long-term shelter. This descriptive exploratory study used semi-structured interviews with seven men who had been given access to computers and had participated in individually tailored occupation-based interventions through a work readiness program. Three themes emerged from analyzing the interviews: access to computers, computers as a bridge to life-skill development, and changed self-perceptions as a result of connecting to technology. Because they lacked computer knowledge and feared failure, the majority of study participants had not sought out computers available through public access. The need for access to computers, the potential use of computers as a medium for intervention, and the meaning of computers to these men who represent the digital divide are described in this study.

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