The Transnational Social Review Journal recently published an article authored by Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol and Loredana Ivan (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania). The publication of this article figures as an advanced online release, previous to their print version.
The title of the article is “Older people and the use of ICTs to communicate with children and grandchildren.” The authors delve into the patterns of ICT use by older people to communicate with their offspring and suggest a new approach that explains technology appropriation by this age group.
Abstract: In this research we explore older people’s incentives to use Internet services to communicate with their children and grandchildren, and the factors that make older individuals stop using (or even reject) Internet-mediated communications. We apply the uses and gratifications theory, and the gratification niche of medium concept to understand the way people return to less sophisticated tools of communication once the marginal utility is lost. Our analysis is based on empirical evidence the two authors gathered in a set of case studies. We conducted semi-structured interviews with people aged 60 and over in Barcelona, Romania (Bucharest and rural areas), Toronto, Los Angeles, Montevideo, and Lima. The results show that communicating with children and grandchildren when families get separated is an important motivator that “pushes” the elderly to learn more about the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). We emphasize the fact that once motivation is lost (i.e. when family members are back home) the interest in using a particular technology to communicate is diminished, therefore older people might stop using it. We argue for a more dynamic model of technology appropriation for this age group that includes successive stages: ignoring, appropriation, rejection, and re-appropriation.