Older People's Use of Facebook: A Netnographic Research of an Online Community

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Loredana IVAN, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania
Shannon HEBBLETHWAITE, Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University, Canada
Growing old is often accompanied by changes in social interactions, including communication patterns. There is evidence that older adults appropriate new communication technologies to maintain their independence and social connections (Wild et al., 2012). Furthermore, ICTs provide important incentive for grandparents to engage with social media to share photos and news from children and grandchildren, especially grandbabies. Considering Facebook as an emergent, global telecommunication practice, our study is focusing on Facebook by including older adults as users of this technology. Using a virtual ethnographic research (netnography) of a Facebook online community of grandparents from Romania, we analyse members’ interactions, bonding, and support shared through Facebook. Netnography is a form of ethnographic research adapted to include the Internet’s influence on contemporary social worlds (Kozinets, 2010) The netnographic approach allowed us to observe how the participants use Facebook, including: 1) how often they post information or communication using Facebook; 2) who they communicate with using Facebook; 3) what types of information they post or communicate about; 4) how Facebook is implicated (or not) in family bonding and communication. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of online communities in understanding everyday practices of ICT use at older adults.