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Title: Elders and the ITCs use to communicate with children and grandchildren
Author: Ivan, Loredana
Fernández Ardèvol, Mireia
Keywords: older people
long distance communication
motivations - ICT use
Issue Date: 12-Jun-2014
Citation: Ivan, L.; Fernández-Ardèvol, M. (2014)."Elders and the ITCs use to communicate with children and grandchildren". A:CEECOM 2014 - 7th International Central and East European Communication and Media Conference. . Wroclaw. 12 de juny.
Abstract: Past research in using ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in interpersonal communication showed that age plays an important role. There is a general assumption that the elderly are left behind regarding the adoption and the use of ICTs. Furthermore, elders tend to use ICTs mainly for instrumental purposes and the use is rather non-sophisticated. When elders are using ICTs to maintain their social network, similar patterns could be found: They start using internet, or intensify its use, when their children move abroad while they might decrease using the tool if the motivation ends. In this research we explore elders' incentives to go online and use internet services to communicate; the type of agencies they use to communicate with children and grandchildren abroad; and the situations that make them stop using the ICTs or even reject internet mediated communications. We base our discussion on the empirical evidence the two authors gathered in different cities and countries: Barcelona, Romania, Toronto, Los Angeles, Montevideo and Lima, through semi-structured interviews and observation, with people aged 60 years old and over. The results show that the ability for using ICT tools in an autonomous way is a better explanation than age. In this, we distinguish between assisted users and autonomous users. We found that oldest seniors and those seniors who are less socially active are more likely to be assisted users than those who are socially or professionally active. For them communication with their children and grandchildren abroad follows no agency or it is mediated by significant others from their local social network, who are able to use ICTs and select specific information to share, in the second step, with the elder. For some younger participants the use of ICTs is rather situational and imposed by their children or grandchildren, who installed the tool in the first place and assisted them in using it. Finally, other elders describe a proficient and independent use of ICTs so they use the devices and services the way they want to. We discuss the implications of the patterns in using ICTs, for elders' social life and their relationships with children and grandchildren. First, we emphasis the fact that those elders rejecting the ICTs or being unskilled in using them to communicate might be left out from their family circle, particularly when children are abroad -they would experience more isolation. Second, we underline the fact that when children and grandchildren are the ones that control the ICTs used by their parents and grandparents, they are controlling also the information flow and this will redefine the power relations between elders and their younger relatives.
Language: English
Appears in Collections:Conference lectures

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