Digital Technology and Older People: Facilitating and Encouraging Safe and Fun Adoption

Digital technology has brought significant benefits to the lives of many older people.  However, there are significant barriers to technology adoption for many of the remaining people. The aim of this workshop is to consider how to facilitate safe and enjoyable adoption for those who want to or could benefit.


The inherent difficulty of learning new skills later in life is part of the problem.  This is typically compounded by multiple progressive impairments that can make the use of technology less efficient and less comfortable.  A further cited problem is the lack of facilitating conditions, either access to the devices themselves or to effective learning environments.


Instrumental barriers to adoption are compounded by a number of psychological barriers and negative impressions of the digital world.  One is the belief that they exist outside digital culture and that digital concepts are unlearnable.  A further problem is that mass media sometimes presents a negative impression of the digital world (e.g. hacks, scamming) that serve to intimidate those contemplating adoption. A further problem is the perceived effort/reward ratio.  Older people are often reluctant to return to a ‘classroom’ setting, particularly if they have negative recollections of education from earlier in their lives.


Many strategies for improving digital adoption can be identified.  A number of community-based initiatives support digital skills training.  Both public and private sector initiatives support digital mentoring on a relatively informal basis.  Research into strategies for teaching digital concepts includes using games and informal social spaces to provide friendlier conditions for early learning and encouraging adoption.


This workshop invites papers related to:

  • Understanding the problems faced by older people with regard to digital adoption
  • Strategies for improving digital adoption for older people
  • Strategies for supporting older people who do not wish to be or cannot be digitally engaged
  • Case studies of digital/training/mentoring for older people


Dr Mark Springett (


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