Intergenerational Effects on the Impacts of Technology Use in Later Life: Insights from an International, Multi-Site Study

Freeman, S.; Marston, H.; Olynick, J.; Musselwhite, C.; Kulczycki, C.; Genoe, R. and Xiong, B. (2020). Intergenerational Effects on the Impacts of Technology Use in Later Life: Insights from an International, Multi-Site Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(16), article no. 5711.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165711

Abstract

As the use of technology becomes further integrated into the daily lives of all persons, including older adults, it is important to investigate how the perceptions and use of technology intersect with intergenerational relationships. Based on the international multi-centered study Technology In Later Life (TILL), this paper emphasizes the perceptions of older adults and the interconnection between technology and intergenerational relationships are integral to social connectedness with others. Participants from rural and urban sites in Canada and the UK (n = 37) completed an online survey and attended a focus group. Descriptive and thematic analyses suggest that older adults are not technologically adverse and leverage intergenerational relationships with family and friends to adjust to new technologies and to remain connected to adult children and grandchildren, especially when there is high geographic separation between them. Participants referenced younger family members as having introduced them to, and having taught them how to use, technologies such as digital devices, computers, and social networking sites. The intergenerational support in the adoption of new technologies has important implications for helping older persons to remain independent and to age in place, in both age-friendly cities and in rural communities. The findings contribute to the growing literature in the fields of gerontology and gerontechnology on intergenerational influences and the impacts of technology use in later life and suggest the flexibility and willingness of older persons to adopt to new technologies as well as the value of intergenerational relationships for overcoming barriers to technology adoption.

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