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Reappraising the Intellectual Debate on Ageing in a Digital Environment

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Abstract

Ageing is expected to raise significant challenges to the European community in the coming decades. These challenges are connected not only with the problems related to the labor market employment, the provision of healthcare, and the welfare programming for older people, but also with the quality of their social life, and in particular, with their communication activities. In this regard, the article presents a brief overview of the population ageing tendencies and the deficits in the institutional attention towards age discrimination. It also presents the analysis of a survey, conducted by the authors of the article, among senior citizens (61 of age and older, N = 30), which aims to answer the basic research question: how the digital communication technologies impact some aspects in their everyday life, namely: healthcare, professional life and communication. Also, the article seeks to find whether the Bulgarian media perform their basic task to inform the publics for the activities related to the improvement of the life of the older people over 61 years of age.

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... Today these transformations are catalyzed by the intense development of the communication technologies. As positive as their impact might be on progress in all areas of life, it is no less true that they pose challenges for the social stratification of society in terms of age [1]. ...
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The COVID’19 pandemic has led to drastic changes in people’s lifestyle around the world, incl. those related to the natural way in which individuals interact and communicate. In order to examine some of the effects of virtual communication during the social isolation, an academic research team from the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at The St. Kliment Ohridsky Sofia University of Bulgaria undertook a study in the declared two-month’s period (13.03.–13.05.2020) of the state of emergency in the country. The researchers conducted a three-folded study: on the sociological polls and the media coverage during the pandemics; on the impacts of virtual communication during the social isolation, using mixed methodology: quantitative and qualitative survey with three groups of respondents: media users, media professionals and media experts; and on the activities of the telecommunication industry. The results of the effects of virtual communication in social isolation were indicative.
... Today these transformations are catalyzed by the intense development of the communication technologies. As positive as their impact might be on progress in all areas of life, it is no less true that they pose challenges for the social stratification of society in terms of age [1]. ...
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Mobility and migration processes through transnational borders outline the new dimensions of the modern world. The countless possibilities to work and study abroad are among the main reasons for the younger generations in Bulgaria to leave their country and their family, relatives and friends. The newly formed virtual family form composed of a married or unmarried couple, a family with children (narrowly) and their ancestors (broadly) where single, several or all members of the family unit do not live in the same household faces immense challenges.
... Today these transformations are catalyzed by the intense development of the communication technologies. As positive as their impact might be on progress in all areas of life, it is no less true that they pose challenges for the social stratification of society in terms of age [1]. ...
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The proposed text discusses some major social changes taking place in the modern society and transforming the nuclear family model. Along with the various forms of family life including cohabitation relationships, living apart together families, reconstituted families, rainbow families, migrant families, this study defines “the virtual family” as a new family form. The aim is to outline the nature of communication and relationships between its members. Using a number of in-depth interviews (N = 50), the analysis of the responses displays that the communication from a distance is essential for the preservation and maintenance of the family relationships, structure and intimacy. The results also show that the interviewees use more mobile phone than Viber, Skype or Facebook, do not communicate with the same frequency, duration and quality with all their relatives, the quantity and the quality of communication correspond to the period of absence.
Chapter
The addiction to technology of older persons is an emerging field, because the literature tends to focus only on the benefits of the use of technology in this age group. Along with this, there is interest in how participation improves the quality of life of older persons. In this context, the present study aims to examine the association between the level of participation of older individuals and their addictive behaviors to Internet, including lack of control and emotional deregulation. All this, considering the social influence for the use of the Internet as a mediator of this relationship. For this, 151 older Internet users answered a set of questions about internet addiction, level of participation, and social influence for the use of technology. A structural equation modeling was carried out to evaluate the mediation model. The results show that the level of participation is indirectly associated with the two dimensions of Internet addiction, via the social influence that promotes the use of technology. This has important implications in the development of interventions that encourage Internet use in older persons, decreasing addictive behaviors that could emerge as the use of technology becomes more common.
Conference Paper
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Book
What shapes the role of Information and Communication Technologies in our everyday life? Despite the speed with which information and communication technologies such as the PC, mobile telephone and internet have found their way into society, there remains a good deal of debate surrounding their adoption and use. Through empirical studies covering a broad range of everyday life and work settings, this volume provides grounded insights into the social dynamics influencing how ICTs are both shaped and experienced. Specifically, the book examines the contributions of diverse disciplines to our understanding of these processes, the symbolic nature of technologies, the influence of design on the experience of ICTs, the role of users in influencing that design, the social constraints affecting the use of those technologies, and strategies for evaluating the social consequences of ICT innovations. Contents: Introduction, Leslie Haddon, Enid Mante-Meijer and Eugène Loos. Part I Disciplinary Insights into the Social Dynamics of Innovation and Domestication: Computer anxiety in daily life: old history?, John Beckers, Henk Schmidt and Jelte Wicherts; ICTs and the human body: an empirical study in 5 countries, Alberta Contarello, Leopoldina Fortunati, Perdo Gomez Fernandez, Enid Mante-Meijer, Olga Vershinskaya and Daniel Volovici; The adoption of terrestrial digital TV: technology push, political will or users' choice?, Tomaz Turk, Bartolomeo Sapio and Isabella Maria Palombini; The flexible room: technology for communication and personalisation, Marianne Jensen, Heidi Rognskog Mella and Kristin Thrane. Part II The Internet as a Tool to Enable Users to Organise Everyday Life: Uses of the family internet sites: a virtual community between intimate space and public space, Fanny Carmagnat, Julie Deville and Aurélia Mardon; Legal self-help and the internet, Lieve Gies; On older people, internet access and electronic service delivery: a study of sheltered homes, Maria Sourbati. Part III ICTs in Organisational Settings: A Tool or a Curse?: Resistance to innovation: a case study, Raija Halonen; Using ICT in human service organisations: an enabling constraint? Social workers, new technology and their organisation, Eugène Loos; The impact of ICT implementations on social interaction in work communities, Niina Rintala. Part IV The Future: The Boundaries Between Work and Non-Work Life: There is no business like small business: the use and meaning of ICTs for micro-enterprises, Jo Pierson; Teleworking behind the front door: the patterns and meaning of telework in the everyday lives of workers, Arjan de Jong and Enid Mante-Meijer. Part V Future Developments: Enabling humans to control the ethical behaviour of persuasive agents, Boldur Barbat, Andrei Moiceanu and Hermina Anghelescu; Challenging sensory impairment, Keith Gladstone; Conclusion, Enid Mante-Meijer, Leslie Haddon and Eugène Loos; Index. About the Editor: Eugene Loos and Enid Mante-Meijer are both Lecturers at the Utrecht School of Governance, The Netherlands. Leslie Haddon is Research Associate in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics, UK. Reviews: ‘This book provides unique insights into the adoption and use of ICTs. In contrast to the common generalisations about the impact of technology on society, this fascinating collection of original studies shows that we can only really understand ICTs by looking at how they are adopted and used in everyday life settings. The book provides a valuable resource for anyone seriously interested in the implications of new technologies.’ Judy Wajcman, Australian National University ‘With a pan-European perspective and drawing on empirical, conceptual and design studies, this book provides a range of insights into the deeper stories surrounding the emergence of the European e-Society. This excellent collection should be read by researchers, policy makers and commercial decision makers who are grappling with the role of ICTs in everyday life and by students seeking to carry out innovative “society and technology” research.’ Ben Anderson, Director, University of Essex, UK '...an excellent collection of empirical studies covering a broad range of everyday life and work settings. The book provides grounded insights into the social dynamics influencing the shaping of ICTs and how they are experienced. It should be read by researchers, policy makers and commercial decision makers who are grappling with the role of ICTs in everyday life. It should also be read by students seeking to carry out innovative “society and technology” research.' The Electronic Library
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