This report presents a study of elderly people’s participation in the digital society. The aim is to identify and describe why and for which purposes pensioners use computers and mobile phones. Furthermore, the interactional analysis used in the study aims to complement previous results from quantitative surveys by paying attention to elderly persons’ self-image, attitudes and perceptions of the digitalized society. Questions discussed are what paths elders to take to use IT, what elderly people do with digital technology, and how they perceive their place and role in the digital society.
The data analyzed consist of recorded interviews with 22 pensioners, aged 66–87. The participants are men and women from different social and professional backgrounds. What they have in common is that they all use computers and mobile phones in their daily life. The participants’ age is central to the investigation and time is an important theme in the report. A now and a then is constructed and made relevant in the stories that the participants tell. The stories contain elements that highlight the development of society and of change that has affected individuals.
Possible reasons for not using digital media are physical problems, such as bad motor skills, impaired sight or hearing, lack of knowledge of English and not having been introduced to the media while they were still working. Even though these problems are common among the participants, they all seem to find ways to manage digital technologies.
The investigation sheds light on how digital media is involved in the pensioners’ every day activities. All participants use computers and mobile phones to interact with friends and family and to participate in social activities on and outside the Internet. They all claim that they write more often than they did before they had access to computers, and that the types of text they write vary more. They also claim that they read the news more often and that they take a more active role in public debates. Using digital media is, therefore, considered a way to extend the so-called third age.
Uppsala: Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala universitet , 2012. , 90 p.