Ageing and Emerging Digital Technologies



How can we design and evaluate digital technologies to meet the needs, desires, and aspirations of a growing number of older adults (aged 65+)? This overarching question guided this multidisciplinary collection. Emerging technologies, particularly new information and communication technologies, can lead to positive outcomes in later life, contributing to quality of life and social connectedness. However, they can also increase social inequalities and exclusion among older adults. Non-use and poor use of technologies can limit access to information, public services, and opportunities for social participation. Thus, understanding different forms of adoption and use, of non-adoption and non-use, as well as its social impact is critical to inform effective development, implementation, and assessment of emerging technologies. Yet, this knowledge is often confined within disciplinary silos. To overcome this problem, this book brings together, for the first time, researchers from social and computer sciences to explore theoretical, methodological, ethical, and empirical approaches to this pressing topic. This novel multidisciplinary approach provides a comprehensive discussion of participatory design, technology adoption models, sociotechnical frameworks, ageing theories, research design, and ethical principles, while investigating technologies such as virtual reality, digital games, robots, software applications, and social networking sites. These original contributions advance our knowledge in this field, ensuring researchers and professionals have a set of enduring examples, guidelines, and practices to design and evaluate emerging technologies that address both the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population.


Ageing Emerging technologies Digital technologies Sociotechnical systems Multidisciplinary research 


  1. Baecker, R., Sellen, K., Crosskey, S., Boscart, V., & Neves, B. B. (2014, October). Technology to reduce social isolation and loneliness. In Proceedings of the 16th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers & accessibility (pp. 27–34). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, S., Waycott, J., Pedell, S., Hoang, T., & Ozanne, E. (2016, October). Older People and Social Participation: From Touch-Screens to Virtual Realities. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Interactive Technology and Ageing Populations (pp. 34–43). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  3. Barnard, Y., Bradley, M. D., Hodgson, F., & Lloyd, A. D. (2013). Learning to use new technologies by older adults: Perceived difficulties, experimentation behaviour and usability. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1715–1724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkowsky, R. W., Rikard, R. V., & Cotten, S. R. (2015). Signing off: Predicting discontinued ICT usage among older adults in assisted and independent living. In International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population (pp. 389–398). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Biggs, S. (2017). Negotiating ageing: Cultural adaptation to the prospect of a long life. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Breuer, J. M. (1982). A handbook of assistive devices for the handicapped elderly: A new help for independent living. UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brownsell, S., & Bradley, D. (2003). Assistive technology and telecare: Forging solutions for independent living. London: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  8. Choi, N. G., & DiNitto, D. M. (2013). The digital divide among low-income homebound older adults: Internet use patterns, eHealth literacy, and attitudes toward computer/Internet use. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(5).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Choi, R. N., Kong, S., & Jung, D. (2012). Computer and internet interventions for loneliness and depression in older adults: A meta-analysis. Healthcare Informatics Research, 18, 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cotten, S. R., Anderson, W., & McCullough, B. (2012). The impact of ICT use on loneliness and contact with others among older adults. Gerontechnology, 11, 161–169.Google Scholar
  11. Curryer, C., Malta, S., & Fine, M. (2018). Contesting Boomageddon? Identity, politics and economy in the global milieu. Journal of Sociology, 1440783318766180.Google Scholar
  12. Cutler, S. J. (2006). Technological change and aging. In Handbook of aging and the social sciences (6th ed., pp. 257–276). London: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Czaja, S., & Lee, C. C. (2007). The impact of aging on access to technology. Universal Access in the Information Society (UAIS), 5(4), 341–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Delello, J. A., & McWhorter, R. R. (2017). Reducing the digital divide: Connecting older adults to iPad technology. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 36(1), 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. European Union. (2017). European Union EGovernment Benchmark 2017. Taking stock of user-centric design and delivery of digital public services in Europe: Final background report. Brussels: EU Publications.Google Scholar
  16. Fennell, G., Phillipson, C., & Evers, H. (1988). The sociology of old age. Open University.Google Scholar
  17. Fernández-Ardèvol, M., Sawchuk, K., & Grenier, L. (2017). Maintaining connections: Octo-and nonagenarians on digital ‘use and non-use’. Nordicom Review, 38(Special Issuse), 39–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Freedman, V. A., Agree, E. M., Martin, L. G., & Cornman, J. C. (2006). Trends in the use of assistive technology and personal care for late-life disability, 1992–2001. The Gerontologist, 46(1), 124–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gruner, A., Kulik, L., Lillywhite, B., Ozanne, E., Pedell, S., Vetere, F., et al. (2012). Mobile communication technologies for ameliorating social isolation in older people. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 31, 21–22.Google Scholar
  20. Hargittai, E., Piper, A. M., & Morris, M. R. (2018). From internet access to internet skills: digital inequality among older adults. Universal Access in the Information Society, 1–10.Google Scholar
  21. Hawthorn, D. (2006). Designing effective interfaces for older users. (Ph.D. diss., The University of Waikato).Google Scholar
  22. Hill, R., Betts, L. R., & Gardner, S. E. (2015). Older adults’ experiences and perceptions of digital technology: (Dis) empowerment, wellbeing, and inclusion. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 415–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Johnson, J., & Finn, K. (2017). Designing user interfaces for an aging population: Towards universal design. Los Altos, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Katz, S., & Marshall, B. L. (2018). Tracked and fit: FitBits, brain games, and the quantified aging body. Journal of Aging Studies, 45, 63–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LaPlante, M. P. (1992). Assistive technology devices and home accessibility features: Prevalence, payment, need, and trends. Advance data from vital and health statistics.Google Scholar
  26. Lifshitz, R., Nimrod, G., & Bachner, Y. G. (2016). Internet use and well-being in later life: A functional approach. Aging & Mental Health, 1–7.Google Scholar
  27. MacKenzie, D., & Wajcman, J. (1999). The social shaping of technology. London: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Marshall, V. W., & Bengtson, V. L. (2011). Theoretical perspectives on the sociology of aging. Handbook of sociology of aging (pp. 17–33). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mead, G., & Neves, B. B. (2018). Recursive approaches to technology adoption, families, and the life course: Actor-network theory and strong-structuration theory. In B. B. Neves & C. Casimiro (Eds.), Connecting families? Information & communication technologies, generations, and the life course. London: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mihailidis, A., Boger, J., Kautz, H., Normie, L. (Eds.). (2008). Technology and aging: Selected papers from the 2007 international conference on technology and aging (Assistive Technology Research Series). IOS Press.Google Scholar
  31. Morgan, L. A., & Kunkel, S. R. (2006). Aging, society and the life course (3rd ed.). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Neves, B. B., & Amaro, F. (2012). Too old for technology? How the elderly of Lisbon use and perceive ICT. The Journal of Community Informatics, 8(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  33. Neves, B. B., Amaro, F., & Fonseca, J. R. (2013). Coming of (old) age in the digital age: ICT usage and non-usage among older adults. Sociological Research Online, 18(2), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Neves, B. B., Franz, R., Judges, R., Beermann, C., & Baecker, R. (2017). Can digital technology enhance social connectedness among older adults? A feasibility study. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 0733464817741369.Google Scholar
  35. Neves, B. B., Waycott, J., & Malta, S. (2018). Old and afraid of new communication technologies? Reconceptualising and contesting the ‘age-based digital divide’. Journal of Sociology, 1440783318766119.Google Scholar
  36. Quan-Haase, A., Wang, H., Wellman, B., & Zhang, R. (2018). Weaving family connections on and offline: The turn to networked individualism. In B. B. Neves & C. Casimiro (Eds.), Connecting families? Information & communication technologies in a life course perspective. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  37. Quan-Haase, A., Williams, C., Kicevski, M., Elueze, I., & Wellman, B. (2018). Dividing the grey divide: Deconstructing myths about older adults’ online activities, skills, and attitudes. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764218777572.Google Scholar
  38. Quintana, D., Cervantes, A., Sáez, Y., & Isasi, P. (2018). Internet use and psychological well-being at advanced age: Evidence from the English longitudinal study of aging. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(3), 480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Righi, V., Sayago, S., & Blat, J. (2017). When we talk about older people in HCI, who are we talking about? Towards a ‘turn to community’ in the design of technologies for a growing ageing population. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 108, 15–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Riley, J. C. (2005). Estimates of regional and global life expectancy, 1800–2001. Population and Development Review, 31(3), 537–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sixsmith, A., & Gutman, G. (Eds.). (2013). Technologies for active aging. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, A. (2014). Older adults and technology use. New York: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  43. Szydlik, M. (2016). Sharing lives: Adult children and parents. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Timonen, V. (2016). Beyond successful and active ageing: A theory of model ageing. London: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  45. Tsai, H. Y. S., Shillair, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2015). Getting grandma online: Are tablets the answer for increasing digital inclusion for older adults in the US? Educational Gerontology, 41, 695–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. United Nations. (2016). E-Government survey 2016. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  47. United Nations. (2017). World population prospects the 2017 revision. New York: United Nations.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. United Nations. (2018). Ageing. Available here:
  49. Vaus, D., Gray, M., & Stanton, D. (2003). Measuring the value of unpaid household, caring and voluntary work of older Australians. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  50. Vines, J., Pritchard, G., Wright, P., Olivier, P., & Brittain, K. (2015). An age-old problem: Examining the discourses of ageing in HCI and strategies for future research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 22(1), 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Waycott, J., Davis, H., Vetere, F., Morgans, A., Gruner, A., Ozanne, E., & Kulik, L. (2014). Captioned photographs in psychosocial aged care: Relationship building and boundary work. In Proceedings of the 2014 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4167–4176). New York: ACM
  52. Waycott, J., Vetere, F., Pedell, S., Morgans, A., Ozanne, E., & Kulik, L. (2016). Not for me: Older adults choosing not to participate in a social isolation intervention. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 745–757). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  53. Wyatt, S. (2008). Technological determinism is dead: Long live technological determinism. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 3, 165–180.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations