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Title: Connecting with the elderly - Online
Keywords: Elderly and the Internet
Issue Date: 9-Jan-2014
Citation: WENDY WONG HWEI CHERN (2014-01-09). Connecting with the elderly - Online. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Increasing numbers of older adults above the age of 60 are using new media such as the Internet and smart phones primarily for information seeking and remaining in touch with their family and friends via email. Other studies have examined how older adults navigate and attempt to use these devices for biomedical and technological competency purposes ? e.g. medical health information seeking and the design of web pages for older adults. This study attempted to find out more about the motivations of the Singaporean elderly in their use of the Internet and social media from a socioemotional perspective. Based on the socioemotional selectivity theory, where goals related to obtaining emotional meaning from life are most important, the direction of this research was to first establish the socioemotional goals that were important for older adults and whether Internet use and that of social media has had any impact on helping them achieve those goals (selective optimization with compensation model), resulting in an improved sense of socioemotional and/or physical well-being. Hence, by identifying the roles and social and psychological impact of using the Internet and social media in addressing their needs, this study used the narratives of the elderly participants to understand those needs and their lifeworlds. A qualitative method of obtaining data through focus group and individual interviews was used to understand the circumstances and milieu in which these elderly resided to provide an authentic and more detailed picture of their environment ? their lifeworlds. The interpretive phenomenological analysis approach surfaced recurring themes from the narratives of the participants in their use of the Internet as they pursued their desire for continual learning and personal interests. This suggests an improved self-definition and feelings of empowerment for themselves. Being connected to others online also helped to satisfy the needs for companionship and friendship, thus reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. The socioemotional and psychological impact of using the Internet and social media were found to be mostly positive and meaningful for the older Singaporeans. This research, in particular, focused on the social and psychological aspects of Internet and social media usage as recounted by the elderly participants, augmenting existing knowledge of the intangible, socioemotional needs of the increasingly greying population of Singapore, and how the Internet and social media could have a part to play in mitigating the mortal consequences of loneliness.
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