The divide that older people make: age, digital technologies and meaning among older internet users
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
This paper builds on an on-going project that aims to contribute to the scholarly debate on the “digital divide” by bringing to fore the complexities of older people’s understandings and usage of digital technologies. Most scholarly debates on age and digital technologies, both within social gerontology and media and communication studies and within social gerontology, depart from the idea that the “digital divide” pertains mostly to the lack of access and/or skills to use the internet. From this point of view, older people are described not only as a particularly vulnerable group but also as a homogeneous group prone to exclusion. As such, they are believed to be at risk of ending up on the “disconnected” side of the divide. Although research into older people’s Internet usage patterns is rapidly growing, their understandings of digital technologies, particularly in relation to how these are informed by their understandings of aging and old age, remain unexplored.
This paper is based on the analysis of focus group interviews with 30 older adults (65+) who are active Internet users. In this presentation we focus on the relationship between patterns of the everyday Internet usage and how this usage relates to the informants’ understandings of aging and old age. The analysis suggests that the debate on the digital divide fails to address the divide that older people themselves create as they discursively position themselves against non-users when describing when, how and why they engage with digital technologies.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject Media and Communication Studies; Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238282OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-238282DiVA: diva2:770745
67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, November 5-9 in Washington, DC., USA
ProjectsOld People, New Media