Ittay Mannheim is a PhD student in the EuroAgeism Innovative Training Network at Fontys School of Allied Health Professions, the Netherlands. Ittay received his MA in Social and Organizational Psychology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and his BA in Psychology and Management from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He has previously worked at the Division for Research on Aging at the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, where his work focused on loneliness, early detection of dementia, the use of technology and legal guardianship. Ittay’s current research focuses on the perspectives of older adults, family caregivers, professionals, and technology developers on the ability of older adults to use technology, participate in the design process of technology and interventions to change such negative perspectives.
Introducing the Role of Ageism in Use and Acceptance of Digital Technology
Hanna Köttl is a PhD student within the ITN EuroAgeism at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Bar Ilan University. She attained her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna (2014) and graduated from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (2017) completing the European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. She has received clinical and research experience as an occupational therapist in acute mental health, neurology and geriatrics at Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich and Seespital Horgen. Her research interests include mental health and well-being in later life, psychosocial interventions and everyday technology use in older adults with and without cognitive impairments. As part the EuroAgeism program, she has had the opportunity to deepen her knowledge on international policy frameworks and inter-governmental and multi-stakeholder work on ageing by working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and AGE Platform Europe.
Wanyu Xi (Betty) is currently a PhD candidate at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, as part of the EuroAgeism project funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Horizon2020. She received an M.A. in Management and an International M.B.A. Her research interests include psychology and aging, consumer psychology and behavior, especially in IT-mediated environments. Wanyu had published 5 papers so far in journals such as Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences and Psychological Sciences, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Information and Management.
Arianna Poli, M.Psy., psychologist and gerontologist, is a Ph.D. candidate in Ageing and Social Change at the Division Ageing and Social Change, Linköping University, Sweden. Her research lays at the intersection of ageing, (in)equality, inclusion/exclusion, digital technologies. She investigates the mechanisms behind the unequal participation of older people in a digital society. She is actively involved in several scientific networks in the field of technology and ageing, such as the Socio-Gerontechnology network, DigiNord, and the NET4AGE-Friendly Action.
Eveline Wouters: Originally educated as a physician and epidemiologist, Eveline Wouters is professor at Fontys University of Applied Science, School of allied health professions and at Tilburg University, School of social and behavioural science, department of Tranzo. She holds a chair on technological and social innovations in chronic health care, with focus on acceptance and implementation of technology. Technological innovations have important implications for health care transformation, by changing roles, processes and interdisciplinary cooperation, as well as developing new forms of collaboration. Apart from that, development of new technological applications in co-creation with stakeholders and the accessibility of technology, are her research topics. One line of research in this context studies Artificial Intelligence for monitoring stress in patients with challenging behaviour, in persons suffering from dementia. Alongside her research and research related work, Eveline is member of the supervisory boards of two home- and nursing home care organisations in the Netherlands, member of the board for Innovation of Psychogeriatric Care and board member of the Platform Technology for Care and Wellbeing. Apart from scientific publications, she is (co)author of several educational books. She is reviewer and editor of several journals.
Ittay Mannheim, Fontys University of Applied Science, Netherlands
Hanna Köttl and Wanyu Xi, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Arianna Poli, Linköping University, Sweden
Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University, Canada
Eveline Wouters, Fontys University of Applied Science, Netherlands
Traditional technology acceptance models emphasize ease of use and perceived usefulness as main determinants of use and acceptance of technology by individuals. Older (chronological) age is often considered a barrier, and older adults are stereotypically portrayed as incompetent or unwilling to engage with new technology. Recent studies, however, highlight the complexity of technology acceptance and identify additional factors such as social context, emotions, experience, support and individual preferences. Nevertheless, the role of ageism (stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination) as an influencing factor on use of technology by older adults, has yet to be explicitly theorized.
Digital technology (DT) in the context of ageing is mostly discoursed in relation to supporting healthy and active ageing. However, the ageing of the population is often contextualized as a challenge, related to increasing chronic disease, frailty, and dependency. As such DT for older adults often focuses on aspects of care and healthcare.
Ageism in the context of DT may operate in different levels and hamper older adults’ ability to assure active ageing and the right for equal participation. Stereotypes about older adults’ needs and abilities may affect policy, design, and evaluation of DT (macro-level). More so, the design may impose ‘scripts’ as to how (and by whom) DT is used, and how others (caregivers, professionals) interact with older adults (meso-level). Finally, internalized stereotypes (or self-ageism) can influence older adults’ own attitudes regarding use and acceptance of DT (micro-level).
This Symposium discusses current evidence on the role of ageism in influencing use and acceptance of DT by older adults and demonstrates manifestations of ageism in these different levels. Different stakeholders’ perspectives as well as various data-collection methods will be presented to provide a comprehensive theoretical perspective.
In the first presentation Hanna Köttl will present longitudinal data, demonstrating the temporal reciprocal associations of negative self-perceptions of ageing and older adults’ everyday technology use. Wanyu Xi will broaden the discussion on DT use and technophobia by presenting an experimental design on the effect of intergenerational contact and characteristics of the DT. Following, Ittay Mannheim will present a scoping review, identifying ageism as a latent variable in the design of DT. Arianna Poli will discuss survey data on how ageism may lead to self-exclusion from an intervention research on DT. Finally, Kim Sawchuk will present an evaluation study on the effects of digital ageism on digital literacy interventions. Prof. Eveline Wouters will lead the discussion as the main discussant.
Presenter #1, Hanna Köttl, Ella Cohn-Schwartz and Liat Ayalon
The reciprocal associations of self-perceptions of aging and everyday ICT use
Everyday information communication technologies (EICTs) (e.g., e-shopping, online-banking, or video calling) are often associated with youth and a modern lifestyle. In contrast, older persons are commonly stereotypically portrayed as “digital immigrants”, a narrative that has been taken up by many older people themselves. Self-directed ageism, reflected in negative self-perceptions of ageing (SPA), may actually compromise ability and willingness to engage in EICT. Concurrently, low engagement in EICT may also contribute to negative SPA. This study, hence, evaluated the temporal reciprocal associations of SPA and older adults’ EICT use. Data was drawn from two waves (2014, 2017) of the German Ageing Survey (DEAS), a nationally representative survey of middle aged and older individuals. To examine the reciprocal associations of SPA and EICT, a cross-lagged model (n=3600) was estimated. The lagged effect of SPA on EICT use showed non-significant results, whereas the lagged effect of EICT use on SPA with regard to personal competence was significant. Accordingly, greater EICT engagement predicted more positive SPA related to personal competence three years later. These findings encourage researchers and policymakers to empower older individuals in their EICT engagement. Interventions that promote life-long learning and inclusive technological environments can reduce the negative consequences of self-directed ageism.
Presenter #2, Wanyu Xi, Xin Zhang, Liat Ayalon
When does intergenerational closeness hurt? The Influence of Intergenerational Contact and Technology Product Characteristics on Technophobia Among Older Adults
Older adults are often negatively stereotyped (e.g. low competence) relative to younger people in the domain of digital technology. Prior research indicated that such age stereotypes may impose threat on older adults with mere presence of younger people, and possibly contributing to technophobia. However, close intergenerational contact may also reduce negative consequences. An additional determinant of technophobia might be characteristics of technology, such as innovativeness and use complexity. We therefore investigated how intergenerational contact and characteristics of the technology product might affect technophobia among older adults. Using an experimental design (n=240 Chinese participants), we primed intergenerational closeness perceptions by showing pictures of face-to-face intergenerational contact (low closeness) or side-by-side intergenerational contact (high closeness) and manipulated product characteristics. Our results showed that intergenerational contact with high (vs. low) closeness activated more negative perception of aging and higher technophobia in situations where the technology characteristics introduced were of high innovativeness and high complexity. Intergenerational contact closeness was not found to affect the results in the situation where the technology characteristics introduced were of low innovativeness (regardless if usage complexity was high or low). These findings may provide implications on how to better promote technology adoption among older adults through effective intergenerational contact.
Presenter #3, Ittay Mannheim, Eveline Wouters, Hanna Köttl, Leonieke van Boekel, Rens Brankaert and Yvonne van Zaalen
Ageism as a Latent Variable in the Involvement of Older Adults in Design of Digital Technology: A Scoping Review
Age representation and stereotypes are possible factors that underline the design of digital technology (DT). This could possibly influence what DTs are designed and how they are used. Whereas exclusion from the design of DT is a clear form of discrimination, this does not imply that inclusion and co-design is absent of ageism. Such evidence is unavailable, and ageism in the design process seems to be a latent variable.
A search was conducted in seven data-bases for studies reporting design of DT with older adults between 2015-2019. Out of 1,128 studies identified, 239 full-texts were screened and 70 eligible studies were identified during the screening process. Notably, 19 studies were excluded due to explicitly discriminating (excluding) older adults from the design process, and 37 were excluded for reporting the evaluation phase, with no clear data if and how older adults were involved in the design process. The majority of included studies focused on healthcare DT, and generally discussed challenges of ageing in relation to chronic conditions, frailty and independence. Additional latent variables such as phase and type of involvement in the design process, ageist descriptions, incorporating feedback and un-representative sampling are described and discussed in relation to ageism.
Presenter #4, Arianna Poli, Susanne Kelfve, Katarina Berg and Andreas Motel-Klingebiel
(Un)willingness to Participate in Digital Health Research and Self-Ageism
Much research is conducted for evaluating digital-based solutions for healthcare among older people. However, some older people are less likely to be involved than others. We present an analysis of participation in the evaluation of a mobile-based system for monitoring post-operative progress after a day surgery in Sweden. We explore key factors associated with the unwillingness to participate and discuss the possible role of self-ageism in determining the decision not to participate. Based on field information and survey data, we compared participants and non-participants in a sample of 368 individuals aged 60 and older and modelled the individual decision to participate (or not) in the evaluation. Decliners and those who were willing to participate differ along the lines of (chronological) age, gender, job, health status, and digital skills. Age remains a significant factor explaining individual decision to participate even when controlling for other variables. Overall results indicate that very specific groups of older people are more likely to participate than others in digital health research. Age plays a major role in the decision to participate or not. Negative self-perception of being old with respect to digital health research could contribute to explaining the individual unwillingness to participate.
Presenter #5, Kim Sawchuk
Digital Ageism: what we can learn from an experiment in remote learning during the pandemic
Digital ageism refers to the ways that a capacity or propensity to use media, including social media, is assumed to be a consequence of one’s age. In this paper recent efforts by a not-for-profit organization in Canada, HelpAge, to address the existing age-related digital divide in Canada during the pandemic, a divide assumed to be a consequence of one’s chronological age will be presented. In 2021, HelpAge, in collaboration with Connecting Canadians launched a campaign to bring older adults, without internet access, online by distributing tablets to 5 community organizations and over 70 individuals during the pandemic. During this time, the ACT team were invited to interview participants in the project. Results of the evaluations will be presented, paying particular attention to how the 75 participants described ageing with technology and the ideal conditions for their own digital learning. As findings indicate, the experience of age and digital ageism intersects with other prior experiences of discrimination and difference, including those related to culture, language, education and socio-economic status.