Transcending borders and stereotypes: Older parents’ intergenerational contacts and social networking through digital platforms

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Anoop C Choolayil
Laxmi Putran


Older adults are often portrayed as incompetent digital citizens, mostly stemming from the popular perception of older adults as “digital immigrants.” The purpose of this research study was to study how older adults can effectively engage in digital platforms. Following a qualitative approach, 30 older parents who have emigrated children (15 males and 15 females) from Kerala, India, were interviewed who were active users of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The findings show how the respondents embraced digital technologies stemming from perceived emotional benefits associated with intergenerational contact, without which they would not have ventured into the digital space. From seeking emotional goals initially, the respondents gradually started pur­suing intellectual goals in the digital world. The varying degrees of exper­tise of older adults in the digital space indicate that they cannot arbitrarily be categorised as digital immigrants. Instead, they are “digital citizens” who gradually better themselves in social networks, information literacy and social participation online.


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Author Biographies

Anoop C Choolayil, Central University of Kerala

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Social Work, Central University of Kerala

Laxmi Putran, Central University of Kerala

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Central University of Kerala


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