Ageing Well: Post-industrial society and technology – Bochum

Pop-up CityLab in Bochum: Panel discussion

Virtual Place

Date

Start: 08.07.2021
End: 08.07.2021

Partners

City Bochum

The UNIC Pop-up CityLab focuses on the exchange of experiences and the question of the relationship between good ageing and memories and which research questions and practical recommendations for action can be derived from this.

22 including: researchers, university staff members, members/users of local associations.

  • 5 researchers
  • 14 participants of public institutions and organizations
  • 1 city representative
  • 2 organizers

o The keynote presentation by Christiane Schütter from Generationennetz Gelsenkirchen reports on her experiences as a technology ambassador in the Covid19 crisis. As part of her work, she and a ZWAR seniors' group (ZWAR = "Zwischen Arbeit und Ruhestand", "Between age and retirement") offer training on office applications, e-mails, and smartphones to make it easier for the elderly to get started with digitization. Efforts are also being made to reach people who cannot afford their own smartphones for financial reasons. Typically, these continuing education courses take place in on-site groups, which also makes the tech meetups places for social exchange and get-togethers. Due to the outbreak of the Covid19 crisis, this was no longer possible, which is why the exchange was partly continued via video telephony (Zoom, Jitsi). For dementia patients, there was a special project in this context. Monika Sommer-Kensche reports on a project in which dementia patients can be entertained in the presence of their relatives or caregivers via a tablet configured especially for them. It is possible to play games, listen to music or watch videos on the tablet to promote cognitive fitness and memory.

o In his contribution, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Merkel from the Ruhr-University Bochum addresses the field of ageing and technology. Not only in society in general, but also in technology development, there are numerous prejudices against older people and their capabilities in using modern technologies. These negative images of ageing are also incorporated into technical artifacts and projects, which is one of the reasons why technologies for the elderly have not yet been able to establish themselves on the market. Research efforts also tend to focus on technology-based solutions to mitigate the effects of demographic change. In technology development, the needs and wishes of older people are rarely the focus. In this context, affinity for technology does not necessarily have anything to do with age or ageing, but rather with a person's socialization, which has a direct influence on later technology control beliefs. On the one hand, earlier successful experiences with technology can prepare people for digitization. In some cases, however, a strong "tinkerer's identity" may also lead to feeling overwhelmed when it comes to digital developments. In summary, it can be said that age is overestimated as an explanatory variable in digitization and must be understood as one aspect of a larger overall context.

o These questions will be explored in greater depth in the concluding discussion moderated by Prof. Dr. Sebastian Merkel. The participants report that older people are often very interested in digitization, but that there is a lack of appropriate formats with access tailored to them. What is needed, however, are age-appropriate formats and not "old people's formats." Chronological age is not the decisive factor in becoming interested in technology. For older migrants in particular, technology is key to establishing or maintaining a connection to the home country. In addition to social exchanges, it is often safety aspects that lead to engagement with technology in old age. Social milieus, gender and other factors must be considered in questions of digitization.

o Main findings:

  • Affinity for technology does not necessarily have anything to do with age or ageing, but rather with a person's socialization, which has a direct influence on later technology control beliefs
  • In summary, it can be said that age is overestimated as an explanatory variable in digitization and must be understood as one aspect of a larger overall context

Tags

UNIC CityLabs | Post-Industrial Cities

Themes

Diversity and Inclusion | Post-industrial Cities | Ageing well

Type of case

discussion group

Languages

German

Organizing unic universities

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