Older People Positive, Active and Creative ICT Use: A Study in Three Countries

  • Susan M. FerreiraEmail author
  • Sergio Sayago
  • Josep Blat
Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


Within Human-Computer Interaction, older people (60+) are often characterized as a heterogeneous group of consumers of digital content that use ICTs in a limited way due to age-related changes in functional abilities. By drawing on an ethnographical study of ICTs use by approximately 220 older people over a 5-year period in Spain and on two rapid ethnographical studies, in Denmark and Brazil, with around 180 older people, this chapter presents an alternative view of ICTs use by older people. We argue that characterizing older people as a heterogeneous group of consumers of digital content with a set of weaknesses/limitations is not enough to understand their relationship with ICTs. This study portrays older people as creative, active and with a positive relationship with ICTs. In addition to their interest in accessing information online, the results show older people as active digital content creators. The study in Spain reveals older people as active, creative makers of digital videos with contemporary technologies. This chapter focuses on older people access, creation, and sharing of digital content, discussing their similarities and showing an active and positive use of technology. The results indicate that older people ICTs use is not so heterogeneous as one might think. The use of ICTs for communication, the concern with privacy and the interest for multimedia content stood out among the participants in the different settings.



We thank all the participants, volunteers and members of the staff of Àgora, Caso do Idoso, Borger and FoF for their participation in our research


  1. Aroca MS (1999) La Verneda-Sant Martí: a school where people dare to dream. Harv Educ Rev 69(3):320–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carroll JM, Convertino G, Farooq U et al (2011) The firekeepers: aging considered as a resource. Univ Access Inf Soc 11(1):7–15. Scholar
  3. Chalfen R (1988) Home video versions of life—anything new? Soc Vis Anthropol Newsl 4(1):1–5. Scholar
  4. Cheng X, Liu J, Dale C (2013) Understanding the characteristics of internet short video sharing: a YouTube-based measurement study. IEEE Trans Multimed 15(5):1184–1194. Scholar
  5. Czaja SJ, Lee CC (2007) The impact of aging on access to technology. Univ Access Inf Soc 5(4):341–349. Scholar
  6. Dourish P (2004) Where the action is: the foundations of embodied interaction. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Durick J, Robertson T, Brereton M et al (2013) Dispelling ageing myths in technology design. In: Proceedings of the 25th Australian computer-human interaction conference on augmentation, application, innovation, collaboration—OzCHI 2013. ACM Press, pp 467–476.
  8. Ferreira SM (2015) An alternative view of ICTs use by older people in human-computer interaction. Similarities, digital content creation and perceived well-being. PhD Dissertation. Universitat Pompeu FabraGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferreira SM, Sayago S, Blat J (2014) Towards iTV services for older people: exploring their interactions with online video portals in different cultural backgrounds. Technol Disabil 26(4):199–209. Scholar
  10. Ferreira SM, Sayago S, Blat J (2016) Older people’s production and appropriation of digital videos: an ethnographic study. Behav Inf Technol 36(6):557–574. Scholar
  11. Fetterman, D (2010) Ethnography: step-by-step. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  12. Gibson, L, Moncur, W, Forbes, P et al (2010) Designing social networking sites for older adults. In: Proceedings of the 24th BCS interaction specialist group conference. Br Comput Soc, pp 186–194Google Scholar
  13. Gilbert, N (2008) Researching social life. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Gilleard, CJ, Higgs, P (2000) Cultures of ageing: self, citizen, and the body. Prentice Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Harley D, Fitzpatrick G (2008) YouTube and intergenerational communication: the case of Geriatric 1927. Univ Access Inf Soc 8(1):5–20. Scholar
  16. Harley D, Fitzpatrick G (2009) Creating a conversational context through video blogging: a case study of Geriatric 1927. Comput Hum Behav 25(3):679–689. Scholar
  17. Hope, A, Schwaba, T, Piper, A M (2014) Understanding digital and material social communications for older adults. In: Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on human factors in computing systems—CHI 2014. ACM Press, pp 3903–3912.
  18. Karahasanović A, Brandtzæg PB, Heim J et al (2009) Co-creation and user-generated content–elderly people’s user requirements. Comput Hum Behav 25(3):655–678. Scholar
  19. Kirk, D, Sellen, A, Harper, R et al (2007) Understanding videowork. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems—CHI 2007. ACM Press, p 61.
  20. Lehmuskallio, A, Sarvas, R (2008) Snapshot video: everyday photographers taking short video-clips. In: Proceedings of the 5th Nordic conference on human-computer interaction building bridges—NordiCHI 2008. ACM Press, p 257.
  21. Leme RR, Zaina LAM, Casadei V (2014) Interaction with mobile devices by elderly people: the Brazilian scenario. In: ACHI 2014, The seventh international conference on advances in computer-human interactions, pp 21–26Google Scholar
  22. Ling R (2008) Should we be concerned that the elderly don’t text? Inf Soc 24(5):334–341. Scholar
  23. Marshall CC, Shipman FM (2011) The ownership and reuse of visual media. In: Proceeding of the 11th annual international ACM/IEEE joint conference on digital libraries—JCDL 2011. ACM Press, p 157.
  24. Marshall CC, Shipman FM (2013) Saving, reusing, and remixing web video: using attitudes and practices to reveal social norms. In: Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on World Wide Web. ACM Press, Rio de Janeiro, pp 885–896Google Scholar
  25. McGee-Lennon MR, Wolters MK, Brewster S (2011) User-centred multimodal reminders for assistive living. In: Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI ’11. ACM Press, p 2105.
  26. Millen DR (2000) Rapid ethnography: time deepening strategies for HCI field research. In: Proceedings of the conference on designing interactive systems processes, practices, methods, and techniques—DIS 2000. ACM Press, pp 280–286.
  27. Mosberg Iversen S (2014) Play and productivity: the constitution of ageing adults in research on digital games. Games Cult 11(1–2):7–27. Scholar
  28. Nussbaum, JF, Pecchioni, LL, Robinson, JD et al (2000) Communication and aging. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Connor C, Fitzpatrick G (2009) Making video mundane: intellectual disability and the use of camcorders. Pers Ubiquit Comput 14(3):197–208. Scholar
  30. Park N, Jung Y, Lee KM (2011) Intention to upload video content on the internet: the role of social norms and ego-involvement. Comput Hum Behav 27(5):1996–2004. Scholar
  31. Purcell, K (2013) Online Video 2013. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Accessed 14 Nov 14 2018
  32. Redish JG, Chisnell D (2004) Designing web sites for older adults: a review of recent literature, Prepared for AARP December 2004. Accessed 14 Nov 2018
  33. Rodríguez MD, Gonzalez VM, Favela J et al (2009) Home-based communication system for older adults and their remote family. Comput Hum Behav 25(3):609–618. Scholar
  34. Rogers, Y, Marsden, G (2013) Does he take sugar? Moving beyond the rhetoric of compassion. Interactions 20(4):48. Scholar
  35. Rogers Y, Paay J, Brereton M et al (2014) Never too old: engaging retired people inventing the future with MaKey. In: Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on human factors in computing systems—CHI 2014. ACM Press, pp 3913–3922.
  36. Ryu MH, Kim S, Lee E (2009) Understanding the factors affecting online elderly user’s participation in video UCC services. Comput Hum Behav 25(3):619–632. Scholar
  37. Sayago S, Forbes P, Blat J (2012) Older people’s social sharing practices in YouTube through an ethnographical lens. In: Proceedings of the 26th annual BCS interaction specialist group conference on people and computers. British Computer Society, pp 185–194Google Scholar
  38. Strauss A, Corbin J (1998) Basics of qualitative research: techniques and theories for developing grounded theory. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  39. Vines J, Pritchard G, Wright P et al (2015) An age-old problem: examining the discourses of ageing in HCI and strategies for future research. ACM Trans Comput Hum Interact 22(1):1–27. Scholar
  40. Waycott J, Vetere F, Pedell S et al (2013) Older adults as digital content producers. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems. ACM (CHI 2013), pp 39–48.
  41. Werner F, Werner K, Oberzaucher J (2012) Tablets for seniors–an evaluation of a current model (Ipad). In: Wichert R, Eberhardt B (eds) Ambient assisted living. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 177–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Télé-Université Du QuébecQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations