14. “Stay Tuned”: The Role of ICTs in Elderly Life

Fausto COLOMBO a, Piermarco AROLDI b, Simone CARLO b

a Department of Communication and Performing Arts  - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy

b OssCom - Research Center on Media and Communication – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy

Abstract. Ageing in western society has become a key issue in political and academic debate: politicians, sociologists, doctors, demographers, psychologists, economists are trying to understand how ageing will impact our future society. In this frame, media and communication technologies seem to be more and more relevant for the elderly, thanks to those services and devices helping people to grow old actively. Technologies, the Internet and ICTs could help the elderly to improve their quality of life, to be healthy and independent and to get better assistance. Our ongoing research investigates the relationship between the elderly and use of technologies, and explores the role played by media and ICTs in building a friendly and positive environment for the elderly, and in constructing and maintaining social relations and promoting healthy ageing. Specifically, the research will investigate the use of ICTs by the elderly by taking into account two different perspectives: a) Exchanges between generations: lengthening of life corresponds to a longer period of cohabitation between at least three generations (grandparents, children, grandchildren), and also of co-use of digital media. The research wants to investigate relations between two age groups (grandparents and grandchildren; young people and older people) to understand the dynamics of intergenerational mutuality in the use of technologies and ICTs. b) Media, ICTs, Health: the Western world is increasingly populated by elderly population. Technologies and ICTs can help elderly people to improve their quality of life, to be healthy and independent and to get better assistance. ICTs should encourage active ageing and, in the case of health technologies, new models of care. The project, lasting 1 year, is based on (1) a survey on young elderly (65-74 yrs) population in Italy, and (2) a field-work which consists of family interviews and ethnographical sections in natural contexts.

Keywords: Ageing, Active Ageing, ICTs and Elderly