The journal Nordicom Review has published a new paper coauthored by Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Kim Sawchuk (Concordia University, Canada), and Line Grenier (Université de Montréal, Canada). The title is “Maintaining connections: Octo- and nonagenarians on digital ‘use and non-use’“.
The concepts of user and non-user are frequently deployed within media and communications
literature. What do these terms mean if examined regarding age and ageing? In this
article we explore and trouble these notions through an analysis of twenty-two conversations
with a group of octogenarians and nonagenarians living in a retirement home. Their
descriptions of their changing uses of media througout lifetime, and their encounters with
mobile phones, computers, newspapers, television, radio and landline phones, are presented
as a set of ‘techno-biographies’ that challenge binary divisions of use and non-use, linear
notions of media adoption, and add texture to the idea of ‘the fourth age’ as a time of life
bereft of decisional power. Speaking with octogenarians and nonagenarians provides insights
into media desires, needs and uses, and opens up ‘non-use’ as a complex, variegated
activity, rather than a state of complete inaction or disinterest.