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About this Research Topic

Abstract Submission Deadline 31 January 2023
Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 May 2023

The global aging phenomenon has accelerated the discussion of older people’s positions in digitalizing societies. Even though digitalization of services and communications can be inclusionary, they may also have exclusionary effects for senior citizens. A large number of people over 65 years of age lack adequate digital literacies to support their learning, well-being, everyday life, and participation in society. Meanwhile, too little attention is often paid to specific needs of older adults’ among providers of digital communication and services. How can services and communication be improved? There are numerous inter-related and overlapping concepts that refer to the abilities to use digital technologies and media for various purposes, and these include digital literacy, digital competence, media literacy, ICT literacy, and internet/digital skills.

Presently, there is a need for more research evidence about older people’s digital literacies, and their encounters with digital services. Up to date, only a few large-scale studies of the actual levels of older people’s digital literacies have been conducted. The literature is even more scarce on what problems they encounter when handling digital services. The large share of studies have targeted only selected areas of the studied competences and literacies, and researchers have voiced the need for a more nuanced understanding of older people’s competences and their encounters with digital services. For example, previous studies have not adequately accounted for communication skills, and skills for digital content creation and for protecting one’s safety online. They have also paid limited attention to the outcomes of older adults’ interaction with digital services. Another critique of the previous research is that the studies have typically resorted to respondents’ self-assessments of their competences and skills. Finally, we have very scant research evidence of the digital literacies of people in their fourth age.

For older people’s inclusion and agency in digitalizing society, actions and cross-sector collaborations are needed from multiple societal actors, including the education community. Educators can contribute to older people’s digital inclusion through designing and providing training and support in digital literacies. For this end, educators, as well as stakeholders need up-to-date knowledge about the state of older people’s competences - their strengths and challenges, and consequently, their learning needs. The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish evidence helping to design and provide digital literacy training for older populations. We welcome submissions that address older people's digital literacies in their various roles, for example, as family members, learners, citizens, long-term care residents, media audiences, and users of digital services, and that discuss the implications of the results to educational policy and practice.

The themes in relation to older people’s digital literacies we seek for this Research Topic are the following (but not limited to):

• large-scale studies of older people's digital literacies/digital competences/media literacies/ ICT literacies and internet/digital skills
• case studies of older people's digital literacies/digital competences/media literacies/ ICT literacies and internet/digital skills
• studies focusing in particular to the previously under-researched areas of older people's digital literacies.

Topic Editors will consider Original research and Review articles as article types for submission.

Keywords: digitalization, older people, digital literacy, digital competence, media literacy, ICT literacy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The global aging phenomenon has accelerated the discussion of older people’s positions in digitalizing societies. Even though digitalization of services and communications can be inclusionary, they may also have exclusionary effects for senior citizens. A large number of people over 65 years of age lack adequate digital literacies to support their learning, well-being, everyday life, and participation in society. Meanwhile, too little attention is often paid to specific needs of older adults’ among providers of digital communication and services. How can services and communication be improved? There are numerous inter-related and overlapping concepts that refer to the abilities to use digital technologies and media for various purposes, and these include digital literacy, digital competence, media literacy, ICT literacy, and internet/digital skills.

Presently, there is a need for more research evidence about older people’s digital literacies, and their encounters with digital services. Up to date, only a few large-scale studies of the actual levels of older people’s digital literacies have been conducted. The literature is even more scarce on what problems they encounter when handling digital services. The large share of studies have targeted only selected areas of the studied competences and literacies, and researchers have voiced the need for a more nuanced understanding of older people’s competences and their encounters with digital services. For example, previous studies have not adequately accounted for communication skills, and skills for digital content creation and for protecting one’s safety online. They have also paid limited attention to the outcomes of older adults’ interaction with digital services. Another critique of the previous research is that the studies have typically resorted to respondents’ self-assessments of their competences and skills. Finally, we have very scant research evidence of the digital literacies of people in their fourth age.

For older people’s inclusion and agency in digitalizing society, actions and cross-sector collaborations are needed from multiple societal actors, including the education community. Educators can contribute to older people’s digital inclusion through designing and providing training and support in digital literacies. For this end, educators, as well as stakeholders need up-to-date knowledge about the state of older people’s competences - their strengths and challenges, and consequently, their learning needs. The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish evidence helping to design and provide digital literacy training for older populations. We welcome submissions that address older people's digital literacies in their various roles, for example, as family members, learners, citizens, long-term care residents, media audiences, and users of digital services, and that discuss the implications of the results to educational policy and practice.

The themes in relation to older people’s digital literacies we seek for this Research Topic are the following (but not limited to):

• large-scale studies of older people's digital literacies/digital competences/media literacies/ ICT literacies and internet/digital skills
• case studies of older people's digital literacies/digital competences/media literacies/ ICT literacies and internet/digital skills
• studies focusing in particular to the previously under-researched areas of older people's digital literacies.

Topic Editors will consider Original research and Review articles as article types for submission.

Keywords: digitalization, older people, digital literacy, digital competence, media literacy, ICT literacy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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