“They’re often not as included in these types of networks as are other groups.” Overcoming Stereotypes Despite the benefits technology tools can have for older adults seeking social connections, there remains the public perception—perhaps shared by many social workers—that older adults aren’t interested in technology or don’t want to learn about it.
Although many barriers such as cost of Internet access, equipment that is not user friendly, and fear of failure exist for older adults who want to learn about technology, there are indications that many older adults continue to hold positive attitudes toward technology or at least accept that it is crucial to participating in society.
Although is open to people of all ages, it has been especially popular among older adults, says Linda Grove-Paul, LCSW, Centerstone’s director of addiction and forensic services.
Companies nationwide are trying to tap into the market opportunities by taking well-known technology modalities, such as social networking, e-mailing, and Internet browsing, and making them “elder friendly.” Freddolino, for example, is providing research support to Connected Living, a Massachusetts-based company that promotes a multifaceted approach to technology engagement among older adults.
We find that many [older adults] still don’t know each other in their building, and they isolate [themselves] in their rooms.
We built Connected Living to build those bonds.” Individual social bonds built through technology, in turn, encourage older adults to engage with technologies that are connecting society as a whole, says Cheryl Lewis, MEd, sales manager for Telikin.
There are myriad reasons older adults have turned to technology.
Older adults see technology as a tool for connecting with family and friends, developing new friendships, exploring options for entertainment and hobbies, accessing support and information about health topics, and managing activities of daily life, such as banking and shopping (Blaschke, Freddolino, & Mullen, 2009).