Roser Beneito-Montagut is Senior Lecturer of Multimedia at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). She holds a doctorate in Fine Arts from the Miguel Hernández University, an MA in Multimedia from the UOC and an MRes in Sociology from the University of Bath (UK). Her research interests include the study of everyday life on the internet, elderly and social media, emotions in online communication processes and social life. She leads the research project “Elderly and Social Media: Bridging the gap of eMarginality trhough social media” funded by Recercaixa.
Elderly and Social Media: Bridging the gap of eMarginality through social media
The project aims to enquiry the extent to which older people use the social media, to communicate with others and keep interpersonal relationships. Western urbanization and modernization have led to the breakdown of traditional social orders and even undermined the mechanisms that traditionally support and protect older people. The percentage of older people living alone varies in European countries from 50% in Denmark to less than 20% in south Europe. In these countries the family structure is changing and this percentage is greater than ever and increasingly growing. Besides, a high number of the older people who live alone felt loneliness at some point. ICTs, and social media in particular, play an essential role in supporting daily life in society. They are used, inter alia, to stay in touch with family and friends, and even to extend our social networks. In this sense, one of the moderators of marginality in the information society is interpersonal relationships. This paper offers a theoretical framework and a methodological proposal to study how social media can improve the well-being of older people. Specifically it serves as a framework for a research project enquiring how Catalan elderly uses social media for interpersonal relationships. Eventually, it leads to the development of a strategy to promote older people’s social web engagement which, in addition to fostering e-Inclusion for this excluded group, can help to avoid one of the major problems of this population: loneliness and isolation.