I feel less lonely’: what older people say about participating in a social networking website

Alison Ballantyne (School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Luke Trenwith (Helping Hand Aged Care, Adelaide, Australia)
Samara Zubrinich (School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Megan Corlis (Helping Hand Aged Care, Adelaide, Australia)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Publication date: 13 September 2010

Abstract

This paper presents the findings from a qualitative pilot project that implemented an internet social networking intervention and evaluated the effect it had on older people's experience of temporal loneliness. The project was implemented over a three‐month period and utilised an in‐home, one‐on‐one education strategy. Six older people aged 69 to 85 years were recruited from a community aged care programme in South Australia. All participants were connected to the internet and provided with one‐on‐one tutoring in how to use the social networking site. To evaluate the project, data were collected through in‐depth interviews with older people at the commencement and completion of the project. An additional interview with the community programme co‐ordinator was conducted at the completion of the project. Evaluation was also guided by data collected by the research team via reflective journals. The key findings to emerge from the inductive analysis of the data resulted in four major themes, these were: the participants' experience of loneliness; technology as an enabler; providing a supportive environment; connectivity. A case study is presented to provide in‐depth understanding of how social networking can help reduce the participants' experience of loneliness. The findings from this project demonstrated that the utilisation of a social networking site has the potential to reduce loneliness in older people and therefore, based on these findings, recommendations for further research and practice implementation are made. In particular the project team recommends expanding the current pilot project into a larger scale project.

Keywords

Citation

Ballantyne, A., Trenwith, L., Zubrinich, S. and Corlis, M. (2010), "‘I feel less lonely’: what older people say about participating in a social networking website", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 25-35. https://doi.org/10.5042/qiaoa.2010.0526

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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