Full Program »
Do New Communication Technologies Scare Older Adults? Re-Conceptualisation and Rebuttal of The Age-Based Digital Divide
Introduction: Despite the many attempts of critical treatment of the age-based digital divide, literature and public discourse continue to present older adults as a homogenous group, characterised by technophobia, digital illiteracy, and lack of knowledge necessary to use technology. The aim the paper is to illuminate the often overlooked roles of socioeconomic factors and individual circumstances in the use of modern information-communication technology in later life. Methods: A qualitative research approach was used; data was collected using the method of semi-structured interview with 16 older adults in the institutional care environment. The data was analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results: The results provide insight into the complexity of the acceptance and use of technology among older adults, those more at risk of digital exclusion. Personal, social, and technological contexts are intertwined, indicating different sociotechnical contexts of information-communication technology use. We studied the interplay between them – external structure, internal structure, actions, and results. Discussion: A contextualised study of the acceptance of technology in later life is needed. It is necessary to give a voice to digitally excluded older adults. Age-based assumptions regarding the lack and type of use of information-communication technologies cannot be universally applied, and should be rebutted. Since contexts and structural processes ae intertwined, the digital divide is intersectional, not solely connected to age but also social and digital inequalities. The paper emphasises the need to eliminate the digital divide in later life.