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Socially Distanced or Socially Connected? Well-being through ICT Usage among the Indian Elderly during COVID-19

Trisha Bakshi and Asmita Bhattacharyya

Millennial Asia, 2021, vol. 12, issue 2, 190-208

Abstract: The ageing of the national population along with the rapid diffusion of technological innovations necessitate it to turn our attention to the significance of considering the adoption of technology by the Indian elderly. The impact of social distancing and the role of technology on the everyday lives of the older people during the pandemic remain under-researched. The public health crisis created by COVID-19 has deepened the roots of digital divide by digitally marginalizing older people especially in the developing nations who often lack awareness, access and training to use technology. This study captures the success stories, ordeals or challenges faced by the older people in coping with social distancing measures through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Results of the qualitative in-depth interviews conducted on 30 professionals aged at least 60 years, residing in a metropolitan city in eastern India show that as the participants feel isolated, they reconfigure their traditional norms of face-to-face social interaction and rely upon their touchscreens and keyboards to continue everyday interaction, to work from home, access information and avail ‘essential services’. Apart from focusing on their impetus to adopt ICT, the study highlights the blocks in active usage of ICT namely attitudinal barriers, prior negative experience, concerns over cyber security, complicated technical instructions and lack of supportive learning environment. In order to create a technologically inclusive society for the older people, it is essential to cater to their unique needs and design elderly friendly technologies.

Keywords: Older people; social distancing; well-being; ICT; social connectedness; pandemic (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/0976399621989910

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