Older audiences in the digital media environment: A cross-national longitudinal study

Period: 2016 – 2020

Source of funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council del Canadà (SSHRC)

Project framework: ACT Project

Team: Galit Nimrod, Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Eugène Loos, Utrecht University; Barbara Ratzenböck, University of Graz; Loredana Ivan, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration; Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Martine Lagacé, University of Ottawa; Collaborator for the Spanish case: Andrea Rosales, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Research assistant for the Spanish case: Pedro Jacobetty, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Description: This project aims to answer two distinct but interrelated research questions. The first question deals with the potential for displacement of traditional dominant media by innovative communication practices within the older audience of new media, requiring analysis of media repertoires and habits. The second relates to the effects, dynamics, and level of globalization of this process, calling for a cross-national and longitudinal approach. Involving teams from seven countries, this ACT mega-project offers a unique opportunity to create a comparative data set, as well as collect longitudinal data over a five year period, using the same group of participants.

Methodology: Data will be collected on a biannual basis in seven countries (Austria, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Romania, Spain, and The Netherlands) during a five-year period (overall three waves). The study is based on an online survey of Internet users aged 60 or over. With varying expected dropout rates, the samples were planned to have a final panel that will comprise about 500 participants per country. The questionnaire includes closed-ended questions exploring media use, places of media use, media preferences, background characteristics, and subjective well-being. With the exception of minor adaptations, the same measurement will be used in each of the three waves.

Expected outputs: This study is expected to significantly contribute to the body of knowledge related to ageing in a digital world and to the factors enabling or constraining older audiences to use new media over time. Its insights can be used for both theory building and practical implications, and direct the information policy of organizations aiming at creating conditions for older audiences to stay connected to crucial information, allowing them to stay active members in our society.