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Uses of Technology to Connect Older Generations
There are two research articles Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults? A Feasibility Study (see abstract in Box 1) and Impact of Internet Use on Loneliness and Contact with Others Among Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analysis (see abtract in Box 2) have been chosen for this comparative review. After examining both articles, concerning the abstract, the introduction, back group, the methodology used, the results and the implication. Both articles conducted research on using information and communication technology (ICT) and social connection among older adults. Even the different methods are used for the research, but both research articles seem to have some positive conclusion. The ICT usage has a positive effect, increases social connectedness and reducing loneliness and social isolation among older adults.
These two research articles have been chosen for this assignment due to several reasons: first, the purpose of the study focus on North American older adults who feeling loneliness and social isolation.as we know, the loneliness is a prevalent phenomenon among the senior population (Wilson,2017, p 1307); Secondly, both of them are primary research articles and all the data were collected directly from their researches; Thirdly, these two article uses two different research methods, the first research employed qualitative research and the second one conducted qualitative research method; The last reason, both articles are published within these few years, one being published in 2017, and the other one being published in 2013, which means the study (especially the topic related to technology) not be outdated.
Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults?
A Feasibility Study
Adapted from Barbosa Neves, Franz, Judges, Beermann, & Baecker, 2017, p.49-72.
Impact of Internet Use on Loneliness and Contact with Others Among Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analysis
Adapted from Cotten, Anderson, & McCullough, 2013.
The first research was done by Barbosa Neves, Franz, Judges, Beermann & Baecker. (2017). Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults? A Feasibility Study published on Southern Gerontological Society (SGS) journal in 2017, which examined the feasibility of digital technology to enhance social connectedness, alleviate social isolation and loneliness among seniors in a retirement home in Canada. The study has been conducting with 12 seniors for 3 month period. The instruments used for this research are the field observes, semi-structured interviews, psychometric scales and usability tests. The research analyzed interview transcribed, tested with qualitative profiling, and observations. The research use inductive approach to show that the ICT enhanced some participants’ social connection with geographically distant relatives, enhanced some participants’ self-confidence with technology and sense of well-being, and 2 in 12 participants report the negative effect of ICT using.
The second research is done by Cotten, Anderson & McCullough. (2013) Impact of Internet Use on Loneliness and Contact with Others Among Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analysis published on the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) in 2013, which examines the frequency of internet using affects perceived social isolation and loneliness of older adults in assisted living and independent living, it also examined the perceptions of how ICT use affects communication and social interaction.
This quantitative research has been conducted with 205 older adults in assisted and independent living communities in Alabama and participates 5 times over one-year surveys. The researchers chose the experimental design and 205 participants were randomized into 3 groups: treatment, placebo and no treatment or placebo). But this research paper only used time 1 survey data for a cross-sectional analysis due to the data collection not yet completed at the moment. The result shows that internet usage has positive benefits for social connection, reduce social isolation and loneliness and enhance well-being among older adults.
Critical Reflection on Methods
Both articles are aim to prove how is the using ICT could improve social connection, alleviate social isolation and loneliness among the older adult, but different research methodology has been using.
Comparing with quantitative research method using in the second article (Impact of Internet Use on Loneliness and Contact with Others Among Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analysis), the advantage of first research article (Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults? A Feasibility Study) is that using qualitative research methods work well in social and behavioural studies, provides depth and details, because social and human behaviour study is more complex than laboratory study which is too difficult to measure only by number. That means the second article which conducting quantitative research is weak in understanding the context or setting for the data collecting. (Becker, Bryman, Ferguson, 2012).
Another advantage of the first article is the different instruments used for this qualitative research: the field observes, semi-structured interviews, psychometric scales and usability tests. In the other hand, the second article only uses the survey as the data collect method.
Next is about the sample chosen, both articles focus on older adult, but the same which choose for a first research paper is too small. Only 12 older adult form one retirement home compare with the second research paper which involved 205 adult seniors from both assisted living and independent living community. But at the same time, both studies were conducted with an older adult who speaking English which might lay out the recent immigration senior group. The small sample size and narrow to one language might not represent the senior population in general (especially for Canada and USA, both countries has big number of immigrant).
Overall the discussion above, both quantitative and qualitative have their advantages and weaknesses. Combining these two methodologies and using a mixed-methods approach involves collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data would be a better and positivist approach for conducting social research. (“Overview of Mixed Methods – Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching,” n.d)
Critical Reflection on Application
Wilson (2017) has discussed approximately 40% of people over the age of 65 will admit to being lonely and the number is higher in people aged 80 or older, especially for people living on their own. In sum, these two articles seem to have a positive conclusion about the ICT usage has a positive effect, increases social connectedness and reducing loneliness and social isolation among older adults living in assisted and independent living community. These researchers could be accepted as an evidence base and have the potential to make an impact to inform policy change and practice. (Becker, Bryman, Ferguson, 2012)
Challenge of the implement could be long processing, time-consuming, budget limitation.
- Barbosa Neves, B., Franz, R., Judges, R., Beermann, C., & Baecker, R. (2017). Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults? A Feasibility Study. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 38(1), 49-72. doi:10.1177/0733464817741369
- Becker, S., Bryman, A., & Ferguson, H. (2012). Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work (Second Edition): Themes, Methods and Approaches. Bristol, England: Policy Press.
- Cotten, S. R., Anderson, W. A., & McCullough, B. M. (2013). Impact of Internet Use on Loneliness and Contact with Others Among Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(2), e39. doi:10.2196/jmir.2306
- Overview of Mixed Methods – Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/research_ready/mixed_methods/overview
- Pope, C., & Mays, N. (1995). Qualitative Research: Reaching the parts other methods cannot reach: an introduction to qualitative methods in health and health services research. BMJ, 311(6996), 42-45. doi:10.1136/bmj.311.6996.42
- Wilson, C. (2017). Is it love or loneliness? Exploring the impact of everyday digital technology use on the wellbeing of older adults. Ageing and Society, 38(07), 1307-1331. doi:10.1017/s0144686x16001537
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