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Older Adults Networking On and Off Digital Media: Initial Findings from the Fourth East York Study

Tue, August 23, 2:30 to 3:30pm, TBA


This is the first report of the fourth East York study, a predominantly qualitative analysis of how adult residents of this Toronto area find social support via the internet, their phones, and in-person. We focus on those East Yorkers who are 65+: they comprise nearly half of the sample. Despite advances in digital media, we find that the second East York study’s analytic categories remain useful. Social support is widely available, with these older adults using the internet, their phones, and in-person contacts to exchange it. There is much reliance on relatives, some on friends, and scant on neighbors—who remain in nodding relationships. Given that many older adults have less familiarity with the internet, they rely extensively on relatives and friends for guidance on how to use it. Email, especially, and Facebook are the most widely used communication media for the mobilization and exchange of social support. Much social support is still exchanged in-person, while coordination around the exchange of social support occurs via computer-mediated means.


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