14 responses to “How the internet and digital technology can combat isolation

  1. Well done, Shirley. It is REALLY useful to bring these fab resources together in such a handy list. As you say, “accessing and learning about the digital world can be a challenge for many individuals” and some older people “lack confidence in their ability to learn something new”.

    As you know, My 90 year old Mum has written a very popular blog about the challenges of an ever more digital society: http://bit.ly/Qg3fS5

    I think the way forward involves nudging and really helping people to try something new and for them to see the BENEFITS for themselves (as these approaches do) combined with genuine sensitivity and recognition of how hard change can be at any age, far less in advanced years.

    I am hoping I can get Mum to write a regular blog series as writing is “her thing” … and it is such a short step from writing to blogging. Watch this space 🙂

    • Thanks Gill and delighted to hear that your mum may be contributing more thoughts about the challenges for older people of living in a digitally connected society.

  2. Great list of resources, well done. The fact remains that until there is ubiquitous connectivity that is fit for purpose many people will remain analogue. Getting older is hard enough without struggling for hours to get and hold on to a connection to do anything bordering on useful with it. The connections have to be fit for purpose and just work before any self respecting older person will waste time learning new stuff.

    • I agree connectivity remains a challenge. My view also is that we need to promote the benefits of being connected rather than the technology which is changing all the time.

  3. Excellent stuff – thank you. We have lots of research that shows that face-to-face social networks really contribute to people’s health and resilience. Does anyone have similarly robust evidence that online, virtual social networks have similar effects? I am not sure that the online/depression study quoted here is very strong – it depends on the research methodology.

    • I have personal evidence that online networks have a very positive affect. Bereaved people and carers often need to talk in the wee small hours when most people are asleep. They take the time to visit the networks, contribute thoughts, answer comments from the night before, etc. It can bring great comfort. Does personal experience count as ‘research methodology’? Does grassroots information carry any weight or has it to be done by long questionnaires and tick boxes to have validity?

      • This is a really interesting question and you may be interested in the work being undertaken by Markets for Good who are exploring how the voices of service recipients are included in evaluations of the social impact of projects.

    • I agree that this depends on the research methodology. Having read over 60 reports about older people, their use of the internet and access to information and support through digital technology I would suggest that there is an increasing body of evidence about the value of online social networks. It is however early days and I am particularly interested in how technology can help people develop offline social networks.

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  5. Pingback: How the internet and digital technology can combat isolation | Carers Chill4us

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  7. Hello Shirley,
    thanks for starting to put these resources together. I think the Gen2Gen is one of the best options for connecting isolated older people. Age UK Barnet is doing a similar project and is very successful (http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/my-neighbourhood/stronger-communities/articles/mi-community-bonding-generations-and-sharing-it). Also the organisation KIT works by bringing volunteering into care homes to connect older people with their simplified computer system (http://www.kitorguk.com/).
    I have written a blog entry about your entry – you can find it here.
    http://researchseniorfriendsonline.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/interesting-blog-entry-on-how-internet.html

  8. Pingback: How the internet and digital technology can combat isolation | Chill4us Carers

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