oudere met smartphone

Social technology enriches the lives of the elderly

Knowledge Snacks 2 min. Clemens van Diek

Also hunger for knowledge? Fancy a snack? Read about Tina ten Bruggencate's PhD research into the role that social technology can play in meeting the social needs of the elderly.

Elderly people want to be independent for as long as possible, to feel connected with each other, with family and friends, with their neighbourhood and with society, and they want to be meaningful to others. Social technology can, especially these days, play a valuable role in meeting those social needs, according to Tina ten Bruggencate, who defends her PhD Thesis on this subject, based in part on conversations with and experiences of older people.

Social technology enriches

Facebook, WhatsApp, video calls and e-mail still play a modest role in the lives of the elderly. A large part of the respondents do not actively use social technology. Those who do, strengthen and enrich their relationships by sharing photos and videos for example. The use of social technology makes older people and people in their network feel at ease. It feels safe to be reachable at all times with a smartphone. However, it also has disadvantages. Elderly people struggle with technology, with installation, with updates, with wifi. And social technology should not replace face-to-face contact. There is annoyance about (grand)children who are too busy with their mobile when they come to visit.

Impulse from corona crisis

As a result of the corona crisis, social technology is often the only way for the elderly to communicate with family and friends. Face-to-face contact has been significantly reduced, and the possibilities of social technology, with its advantages, are now being boosted. There is now so much 'practice' that in the future, in addition to face-to-face contact, social technology can provide more connectedness.

Tina explains

In a short clip of 3 minutes Tina summarizes her findings (in Dutch).

Read more

Press release PhD Defence on July 2 , 2020  (in Dutch)

Webpage Tina, Tilburg University 

WebpageTina, Fontys