Understanding older adults’ use of social technology and the factors influencing use

Wilson, Gemma, Gates, Jessica and Vijaykumar, Santosh (2021) Understanding older adults’ use of social technology and the factors influencing use. Ageing & Society. ISSN 0144-686X (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/s0144686x21000490


Having access and skills to use social technology, i.e. social internet use, social media and social applications, are considered as being vital to online social connection. Whilst evidence exists around facilitators and barriers to general technology use, evidence is limited with regards to the motivators, skills and tangible offline benefits older technology users experience with social technology. Therefore, this study used a qualitative, exploratory method to understand older adults’ experiences of using social technology to connect with others. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 older adults (65+ years) across England, Scotland and Wales. Despite having access to social technology for social connection, and using this technology regularly, multiple barriers impacted motivators and skills for use, namely perceived self-efficacy and fear, the culture of online communication, absence of social capital and physical functioning. Some of these barriers of social technology use are reminiscent of barriers of wider technology use and emphasise the importance of addressing these barriers for digital exclusion, as well as social connection. However, some of these barriers were specific to social technology use and should be considered when providing guidance or interventions to increase older adults’ online social connection. Social connection was a clear tangible outcome to social technology use, and individuals discussed the benefits of using social technology, particularly visual communication tools, for online connection.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was supported by the British Academy/Leverhulme small research grants (grant number SRG18R1\180818).
Uncontrolled Keywords: ageing, digital, technology, social media, loneliness, social isolation, digital exclusion, digital divide, gerontechnology
Subjects: J900 Others in Technology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2021 10:07
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2021 08:16
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45797

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