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Not a Generation of Non-Users: Variations in Elderly’s Online Practices
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
Lunds universitet.
Högskolan i Jönköping.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Within both research and public debates, internet based media are mainly perceived as young people’s media. This becomes particularly obvious in popular conceptualizations such as “the Digital generation”, “the Internet generation”, or “the Facebook generation”. When referring to statistical studies of internet use and internet usage, this perception is also to some extent verified; younger users present both more and more varied patterns of usage. Young people in Sweden, between 16 and 25, spend an average of nearly 40 hours a week on the Internet. However, 50 percent of the elderly (75+) are still non-users. Hence, there is some substance in the generational view of users of online media.

 

There are, however, at least two different but interrelated problems affiliated with such a view. Firstly, the generational view very easily overlooks differences in-between young users. For instance, the notion “Facebook generation” implicitly treats all contemporary individuals in their early twenties as habitual users of social media. Nevertheless, within this category there are in fact also very modest users of social media, and even absolute non-users. Secondly – and most importantly within the frames of this paper – a generational view of internet based media implicitly, by default, treats older people in general and senior citizens in particular as non-users.

 

Rather than understanding senior citizens as a coherent generation of (non-)users, this paper departs from an ambition to illustrate variations in use of online media among senior citizens. It draws on a large scale Swedish survey (n=1264, response rate 63%). The paper deploys multiple regression analysis in order to map overarching user profiles among Swedish senior citizens. More specifically, it identifies and elaborates on five profiles: administration, consumption, welfare service, media usage and production. The analysis further relates these varying profiles to senior users’ assets in terms of material, discursive and social resources. The latter analysis reveals, for instance, how discursive resources (such as “skills in English”) have a positive impact on all five user profiles, while social (for instance “having children”) and material resources (such as “income”) have a positive impact on three and two profiles respectively.

 

The paper concludes by reflecting on the potential implications of these varying user profiles among senior citizens. What do the variations between different segments of senior citizens mean in terms of their inclusion in or exclusion from a society in which both commercial and public services are reshaped from analogue to digital formats?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. 1-26 p.
Keyword [en]
Senior citizens, ICT-usage, online repertoires
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
Media Studies and Journalism, Media and Communication Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-67236OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-67236DiVA: diva2:1131411
Conference
NordMedia 2017, Tampere, Finland
Projects
Ung teknik, äldres vardag: Domesticeringsforskning för digital policy.
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2014-1326
Available from: 2017-08-14 Created: 2017-08-14 Last updated: 2017-08-14

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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