“These devices have not been made for older people’s needs”- Older adult’s perceptions of digital technologies in Finland and in Ireland

Jari Pirhonen, Luciana Lolich, Katariina Tuominen, Outi Jolanki, Virpi Tirmonen

This is a pre-acceptance, pre-copy edited version of an article published in Technology in Society . The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2020.101287

Please cite this article as:

Jari Pirhonen, Luciana Lolich, Katariina Tuominen, Outi Jolanki, Virpi Timonen, “These devices have not been made for older people’s needs” – Older adults’ perceptions of digital technologies in Finland and Ireland, Technology in Society,Volume 62, 2020,

Abstract

This article examines how older adults use and perceive digital technologies in Finland and in Ireland. These two countries are at different stages regarding two important global trends – demographic ageing and digitalisation. Finland, being the fastest ageing society in Europe, is also one of the leaders in implementing digital technologies in social and health care services. In contrast, Ireland is both demographically younger and less digitalised society. Drawing on focus group discussions on the usage of digital technologies, conducted with older adults in both countries, we analyse how digital technologies are adopted and viewed by older generations. The analyses showed that older adults associate digitalisation with both advantages and drawbacks. To encapsulate these two contrasting aspects, we came up with the term Janus-faced conceptions of technology. The Janus-face concept captures how the successful adoption of digital technology facilitate everyday activities whereas the inability to utilise technologies resulted in feelings of alienation and being out-of-touch. The digital divide was found to occur not only between generations but between different socioeconomic groups of older adults as well.Keywords: digitalisation, technology, older adults, focus groups, grounded theory.

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