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What “silver surfers” can teach us: exploring digital skills courses for older adults

  • Having the necessary skills for staying in contact with friends and relatives through digital devices is crucial in today’s world. As the current COVID-19 pandemic shows, this holds especially true for the elderly. Being quarantined and restricted from physically meeting people, various communication technologies are more important than ever for staying social and informed on current events. In nursing homes, staff members are now finding new ways for staying in touch with family members by assisting residents in making video calls with mobile devices. But what if elderly people cannot rely on personal assistance for accessing these alternative means of communication? This raises the general question of how older people can and do learn to use such technologies. Although the internet is full of guides and instructional videos on how to use smartphones or tablets, they are a cold comfort to someone who may not even know what an internet browser is. Especially for digital newcomers, the tried and true method of face-to-face instruction is invaluable. While many older people turn to their children or grandchildren for help in all things digital, courses specifically tailored for elderly users are also increasingly popular. More and more governmental initiatives and associations indeed acknowledge the already existing interest of elderly citizens in digital tools and their growing need to receive customized training (e.g. “SeniorSurf” and “Kansalaisen digitaidot” in Finland or “Silver Tipps” in Germany). For a researcher of social interaction, these courses can also provide a valuable window for discovering what it looks and sounds like to learn to use essential but sometimes alien technologies.

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Author:Florence OloffORCiDGND, Joonas Råman
Parent Title (English):Blog: Science with Arctic Attitude
Publisher:University of Oulu
Place of publication:Oulu
Editor:Kukka Haapaniemi, Anna-Maria Hietapelto, Meri Rova
Document Type:Other
Year of first Publication:2020
Date of Publication (online):2022/04/29
Publishing Institution:Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS)
GND Keyword:Interaktion; Kommunikation; Kommunikationstechnik; Lernen; Medienkompetenz; Schulung; Sprachverstehen; Älterer Mensch
Page Number:7
Elektronische dynamische Ressource
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt