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Exploring the intersections of immigrant seniors’ digital literacies and social connectedness: a Canadian study (2023)

Posted on:
April 19, 2024

Seniors’ adoption of emerging technologies is crucial to their social connectedness, well-being, and digital participation in society. This article presents a Canadian study on how immigrant seniors established and sustained social connections through their engagement with digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers sought to

  1. deepen understandings of how immigrant seniors’ learning through and about technologies can shed light on our conceptualization of seniors’ digital literacies and
  2. suggest programs and pedagogies that could foster lifelong learning for seniors.

Data were collected through interviews, observations, and digital artifacts from a sample of immigrant seniors (N:16). Through narrative, researchers brought together the personal and sociocultural perspectives from four seniors’ stories for holistic insights into their learning and engagement with technologies. Their stories also emphasize possibilities for dynamic and interconnected digital engagement and the inseparable link between community support and developing seniors’ digital literacy. Social interaction plays a pivotal role in facilitating, fostering, promoting, and enhancing seniors’ digital literacies.

Findings challenge preconceived notions about how seniors navigate digital technologies and offer strategies for supporting community service agencies in designing and implementing senior-friendly digital literacy programs.

Creating senior-friendly digital literacy programs demands a comprehensive approach that honors seniors’ desire for lifelong learning and acknowledges their potential as agentive learners and digital contributors. This approach situates aging as a relational practice that is socially constructed. A nuanced understanding of seniors’ lived experiences coupled with an emphasis on social connectedness, peer-to-peer learning, and intellectual curiosity suggests digital literacy programs are not just about static competency checklists. Instead, they are pedagogical spaces where we can focus on the relational and performative dimensions of digital literacy. This holistic pedagogy also invites us to attend more distinctly to power inequities experienced by seniors, highlighted by deficit self-portrayals in some of the stories in this article.

Summary

Seniors’ adoption of emerging technologies is crucial to their social connectedness, well-being, and digital participation in society. This article presents a Canadian study on how immigrant seniors established and sustained social connections through their engagement with digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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