CNSC codirector Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol was interviewed by the Catalan newspaper Ara to talk about the uses older people make of the Internet, with a specific focus on the smartphone. In this interview, Mireia draws results from the Older Audiences Longitudinal Study to argue that their usage is far more selective compared to younger people and that communication with family members is one of their main motives to engage with digital technologies. However, she argues, older people use social media and WhatsApp for just about the same reasons than younger ones: to socialize, to keep in touch, and to connect with people that matter to them at the reach of their hand.
Professor Roxana Barrantes also features in this note to talk about some results of the Grannies on the Net project. In this news article, both scholars agree that older people often experience fears in their learning of digital media technologies, particularly the possibility of “breaking” the devices by mistake. In this sense, it is often the case that adult children arrange their older parents’ digital devices without explaining much how they work. In economically wealthy countries, older people usually resort to peer-learning methods or attending a course, whereas in less economically wealthy countries they rely more on younger family members (e.g., grandchildren).
Lastly, Mireia argues about the inherent ageism present not only in their learning experiences but also in the design of these technologies. In her words:
[We] only design for older people to fix something. We think of them as people who need things, not as citizens.
Check the links section to read the full interview (in Catalan).
- Full news article (in Catalan)
- Older audiences in the digital media environment: A cross-national longitudinal study
- Grannies on the Net project