Campus Tilburg University hoogleraren

PhD Defense I. Mannheim BA MA

Date: Time: 16:00 Location: Aula

Ageism in the Use and Design of Digital Technology

  • Location: Cobbenhagen building, Aula
  • Supervisor: Prof.  E.J.M. Wouters
  • Co-supervisor: Dr. Y. van Zaalen

Ageism in the Use and Design of Digital Technology – Ittay Mannheim

Background and research objectives: Technological innovation is often described as a solution for or considered to have the potential of meeting the challenges of the ageing society, improving older persons' quality of life, well-being, and healthcare, and supporting ageing in place in a safe and independent environment. At the same time, older persons often experience ageism, defined as stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, in the context of digital technology. Such stereotypes are omnipresent in various contexts (e.g., workforce, healthcare, and media) and can hinder active and successful ageing in a highly digitalizing reality. The main goal of this dissertation is to understand what are the manifestations of ageism in the context of digital technology and the potential role of ageism as an underlying factor that may affect the design, acceptance, and use of digital technology.

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was utilized to initiate and present a coherent and holistic outcome intending to discover paradoxes, contradictions, and new perspectives on the design, acceptance, and use of digital technology. Six studies were conducted, triangulating data from 1) different methodologies, 2) various stakeholders' perspectives (older persons, designers, researchers, and healthcare professionals) 3) and different contexts of use and design of digital technology.

Main results: The triangulation of this dissertation's qualitative and quantitative findings are synthesized in a theoretical model of Ageism in the Use and Design of Digital Technology (see figure). Manifestations of ageism in the use and design of digital technology are identified throughout the different dimensions of ageism: (1) Social-psychological level of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, (2) Negative-positive valance, (3) Explicit-implicit representations, (4) and three levels of individual-micro level (self-ageism), a social-organizational meso level of inter-generational interaction, and policy and design macro level. Importantly, ageism may influence the acceptance and use of digital technology in a dynamic and iterative process of interaction between different levels and interchanging between individuals, design processes, and technological devices and services.

Recommendations for future research and policy: Ageism in the use and design of digital technology is a developing field for future research, entrepreneurship, and policy. The main recommendations are to:

  1. Develop interventions to mitigate self-ageism, empower older persons, and reduce ageism in the design process of digital technology and intergenerational tension.
  2. Raise awareness and training to change the discourse on ageing and technology.
  3. Promote inclusion and aim for partnership and meaningful involvement of older persons throughout the development of digital technology-related products, services, and policy.
  4. Design digital technologies for versatile social, leisure, and communication needs.
  5. Develop methodological innovations to measure the influence of ageism on the use and design of digital technology. In particular concerning discrimination; intersectionality of digital technology, ageism, and other characteristics; and the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI).
  6. Ensure access to digital technology to eliminate the access divide influenced by age, education, and other characteristics.

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