Do computers increase older people’s inclusion and wellbeing?

Holttum, S. (2015) Do computers increase older people’s inclusion and wellbeing? Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 20 (1). pp. 6-11. ISSN 2042-8308.

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Purpose – This article considers two recent studies on computer use by older people, who may become increasingly isolated due to infirmity and sensory impairments. Older people are less likely to use computer technology yet it has been suggested that it may help reduce isolation. These studies inquired into older people’s experience with computers.

Design/methodology/approach – The first article discussed here explored how a sample of older people in the USA acquired a computer and whether it contributed to their well-being. The second article was about a similar study with a sample of older people in the UK.

Findings – In the USA sample, people who saw tablet computers being used by a friend or family member were more likely to purchase one. In the UK sample, people seemed to have had to overcome more fears of using computer technology, but in both samples, once initial difficulties were overcome, people were enthusiastic about using them. In both, people felt more able to keep up hobbies and interests through finding information or connecting with interest groups online, and able to keep connected with family members.

Originality/value – In light of increasing migration of services and information to the internet, these studies explored what helps and hinders older people in using computers, in order to address the digital divide, whereby those unable to use them can be left isolated. These studies explored personal meanings of computer use and specific fears and difficulties, which are important to understand in planning for training and support for older people who are not yet on line. They demonstrated that, alongside face-to-face interaction, being online was experienced as reducing isolation and enhancing lives.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health services. Mental illness prevention
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Dr Sue Holttum
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2016 11:37
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2016 18:09

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00