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Exploring Loneliness Among Older People and Their Related Use of New Technologies

Clayton, David (2018) Exploring Loneliness Among Older People and Their Related Use of New Technologies. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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This research reports the findings of a multi-method study which explored how older people use new technologies to help with loneliness. A central concern is a ‘loneliness paradox’; namely that despite the greater opportunities that exist for social contact using new technologies, loneliness persists among older people. Older people were defined as those 65 and over and new technologies were defined as computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets that combine both personal and mass broadcast communication. A multi-methods approach was used in this study, which involved a self-completion survey (paper or online) and semi-structured interviews. The fieldwork was undertaken between November 2015 and May 2016 using a purposive sampling procedure. Older people were recruited through working with charities, peer groups and social care organisations in a diverse conurbation (East Midlands UK) both in urban and rural locations. Visits were undertaken to day services, lunch clubs, social groups and residential care homes. Thirty semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a cross-section of older people and 126 self-completion questionnaires were returned. The research explored three areas: uses of new technologies by older people, whether they made any difference to loneliness, and the experiences of loneliness in the context of increasing use of new technologies. The study found that new technologies were used by older people to make social contact. However, this contact did not always help with loneliness. Further exploration of the experiences of loneliness highlighted a new framework to understanding loneliness and new technologies through the idea of four Modes of Loneliness (Existential Loneliness, Comparison Loneliness, Loss Loneliness and Alienation Loneliness) and three strategies for utilising new technologies to help; social contact, distraction and therapy. Case studies were used to highlight this alternative approach and to demonstrate how new technologies can be seen to help with loneliness for older people.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Loneliness, Lonely, social isolation, older people, older adults, elderly, technology, computers, internet
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.772893
Depositing User: Dr David Clayton
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 08:13
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:07
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23739

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