In this project, we are investigating the role of online communities and social networking sites in supporting people aged over 65 years to overcome social isolation, develop social connectedness and to build supportive relationships and companionship. For example, online communities may help people aged over 65 years to keep in touch with the younger members of their families, to share information with their friends, develop new friendships, engage in games and active entertainment, gain ICT skills, to exchange experiences and receive or offer support regarding health conditions, and even generate offline initiatives, groups, and friendships.
The specific aims of the project are to investigate: the motivations of people aged over 65 years for participating in online communities; advantages they experience while interacting in online communities; the obstacles that they encounter in engaging with online communities, whether these obstacles are related to the skills required, or to the equipment, or having privacy or security concerns; whether there are particular dangers and risks for people aged over 65 years in online communities; and the usability and accessibility guidelines for the design of online communities for people aged over 65 years.
The research outcomes of the project will be to develop a set of online resources that organisations could link to. The target audience of these online resources will be people aged over 65 years, their families and carers, website designers, policy makers in organisations such as Age UK, ICT trainers, and IT equipment suppliers in local communities, and voluntary organisations. (Image above courtesy (teaching grandma to email): http://www.flickr.com/photos/11574104@N03/3039849826/sizes/z/in/photostream/) This project is supported by JISC TechDis.