ICT and twenty-first century ageing

Holland, Caroline (2014). ICT and twenty-first century ageing. In: Meaning and Culture(s): Exploring the Life Course: 8th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology/2nd Conference of the European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS), 10-12 Apr 2014, Galway, Ireland.

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If you were among the few aware then, electronic computer messages (developed 1950) were the coming thing in the 1960s/70s. By the 1980s, a world-wide connection of networks was happening. From the mid-1990s, the impact of the internet on culture and commerce became revolutionary. By 2014, if you don’t have broadband connection to the internet, you are digitally excluded. At this point in time older people are seen to occupy two positions relative to ICT. The first is a cohort effect of inclusion/exclusion related to probable chronological interaction based on these stages of computer access. The second is based on perceived age-related (in)capacities (physical, cognitive, social) for interacting with ICT.

Alongside these considerations, older people are positioned as notable recipients of ICT services such as assistive technologies aimed at collating health data and supporting independent living; and at the same time as lagging behind in faster-moving social media technologies.

This presentation questions whether, in the twenty-first century, this is an accurate and useful representation of the role of ICT in the lives of older people. Whether or not they personally engage with ICT, these technologies are increasingly significant in supporting well-being later life. If not the older person, then who on their behalf engages with ICT and to what effect?

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