The Digital Granny: Straggler or Avant-Garde in a Digitized World?

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Helga PELIZÄUS-HOFFMEISTER, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany
The digitalization is an epochal social upheaval. However, it seemed as if a group was almost completely excluded from this development: the elderly. They were described as skeptical towards technology. The digital division of society seemed to be mainly a division along the "age gap". In this sense, older people could be described as straggler in a digitized world.

However, recent research shows that the digital skepticism of the elderly is changeable. Women advanced in years, who have only little experiences with technology, but who are now more and more concerned with digital media, are particularly remarkable. These women experience digital media as a great, late opportunity to emancipate and acquire new opportunities. In a double negation of age and gender-specific stereotypes, they use it to create their own, self-determined life in old age.

But the few findings also point out the dangers associated with their specific form of use the media. Due to the lack of prior experience with technology, these women use digital media inexperiencely and learning by playing. Despite their "objectively" low level of technical expertise, they consider themselves competent. Due to the increasing dangers in the use of digital media – especially with regard to data security and privacy – significant risks are associated with these usage patterns. We can identify an ambivalent relationship between emancipation and threats, which is involved in the increasing penetration of society by digital technologies. To this extent, the digital granny could be understood as an avant-garde in a digitized world.

The aim of this paper is to describe an ideal type of these digital grannies out of a praxeological perspective, based on qualitative research. In doing so, the potentials of modern technology become visible, without neglecting their dangers.