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Session Overview
RN01_02b: Ageing and Technology I
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Edward Tolhurst, Staffordshire University
Location: UP.3.205
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Age- and Migrancy-Specific Barriers to Access the Digitalised Public Services: Ethnographic Study

Nuriiar Safarov

University of Helsinki, Finland

Online delivery of public services (eGovernment) is expanding all over the world aimed at improving their cost-effectiveness and inclusiveness. To use such services one is required to have access to internet as well as enough knowledge of Information and Communication Technology. The ability of users to adopt to online system of service delivery gained wide attention. Previous research has examined the difficulties of digital public service use, viewing age as a primary determinant. However, there are only a few studies on migrancy and language as considerable barriers to access public services based online.

The paper analyses the early-stage ethnographic data on the case of Russian-speaking older migrants in Finland collected with participant observations and interviews to gain insights into user experiences of digitalised public services. The paper identifies obstacles that this minority faces adopting to new online-based public services as well as the most effective strategies that participants use to overcome the barriers by themselves. The analysis also pays attention to how people make sense of their experiences of digitalised services.

The study contributes to the digital divides literature by providing a qualitative account of how unfamiliarity with the language and lack of social support amplify the difficulty of technology use by elderly people. Linking to concerns regarding underuse of public services and unmet needs of older migrants, the results have implications on the effort of European governments to make the public services more accessible and inclusive.

Older people and Social Networking Sites Use. A study on older people’s patterns of SNS use in Europe.

Alessandra Gaia, Emanuela Sala, Gabriele Cerati

University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy

Older people’s social exclusion is one of the challenges faced by many contemporary societies and welfare systems. The digital divide may be a source of social exclusion in old age, because of older people’s differential access to and use of the Information Communications Technologies (ICT). With this regard, Social Networking Sites (SNSs) might be important tools to boost older people’s social interactions, reinforce intergenerational connectedness, and strengthen their self-esteem. Investigating the pattern of SNS use in older age is therefore key. Surprisingly, despite of the relevance of these issues, there are no quantitative studies that systematically documented differences in SNS use among the old age population in Europe. The overall aim of this work is to identify patterns of SNS use in old age across countries and time in Europe. We analyse data from the 2008-2016 Eurostat Community Statistics on Information Societies (CSIS) survey, a repeated cross-sectional survey carried out yearly in Europe and perform bivariate and multilevel regression analysis . We find that older SNS users are more highly educated and wealthier than non-user. We also find that while the effects of many socio-economic factors associated to SNS use vary over time and space, the impact of education and income is constant (and positive) for most country-years. Implications of the research findings in terms of their impact on older people’s social exclusion are also discussed.

“I Think I Couldn’t Live Without Television”: Older Persons’ Experiences and Meanings of Watching Television in an Institutional Context

Marija Geiger Zeman, Zdenko Zeman

Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Croatia

Watching TV is one of the most popular leisure activities all over the world (Fedorak 2009). Numerous studies have refuted the widespread belief about the irrelevance of television (Bignell 2008) and its triviality as a research topic in the academia. Consumption of television content is a multi-dimensional, individual as well as social practice with far-reaching consequences and multiple meanings for its audiences in the domain of everyday life. This hypothesis has been confirmed by research focusing on the importance and meanings of television in the everyday lives of older persons. Namely, a series of studies have shown that watching TV is “an important leisure activity” for many older persons (Vander Goot, Beentjes & Van Selm 2012). The paper is based on an analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with older people – residents of the Home for Older Persons Maksimir in Zagreb. It has shown that watching television is an everyday (regular, habitual, taken-for-granted) activity (Felski 1999, Bennett 2002) with different meanings for participants. The importance of television and watching TV programs tends to change over time, and increased with most research participants when they moved into the Home. There are different motives, consumption forms, and uses of TV programs, as well as differences in the preferences of specific TV content and genres. Watching television takes place in a specific physical and social environment, whereby the experience of watching and the patterns of consumption of TV programs differ in particular among the participants who live in single vs. double rooms.

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