About this Research Topic
Technologies that were both scientifically and economically beyond our reach just a few short years ago are nowadays commonplace. Among these technologies we find a wide array of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products that were until recently unimaginable, which provide us with means of communicating with others, conducting our work, educating ourselves, and entertaining ourselves. Unsurprisingly, the manner in which humans engage with and use these technologies has aroused considerable research attention in the last decade, leading to innovations in technology, as well as theories in relation to changes in behavior and in the brain itself. These developments are taking place in the context of a rapidly ageing society, and many disciplines have striven to address technology’s interaction with the ageing process in terms of human development, cognition, social support, and emotional skills.
Even though their adoption has become almost essential to many routine functions, not all age groups have participated equally in adopting ICT. In particular, seniors are commonly described as ‘late adopters’ in comparison to younger users. These older users have also been described as ‘digital immigrants’, since in a relatively short space of time, they had to immigrate from an analogical world to a digital one. Generally speaking, these technologies can include common items to broader market population, such as the telephone, television, personal computers, and the Internet. However, the adoption process could even be more complex when assistive technologies (ATs) are needed to keep independence. Research has demonstrated strong links between adoption of new technologies, cognitive abilities, and independent living among older people. Moreover, a digital divide, or technology gap, has been described in terms of inequalities between individuals, digital literacy, or geographic areas that might emphasize any age related-difference.
Given the growing body of research focused on the interaction between ICT and cognition in the elderly, our purpose is to shed light on the complexity of this effect in terms of human development and media interaction, cognition, social support, and emotional skills. More precisely, we are interested in this particular moment in time that has been described as a historical one, even comparable to the introduction of printing into society. If these new technologies affect our cognitive processes, we need to know how affordances of, in particular, handheld digital devices affect us. As theories suggest, not only has our way of behaving changed, but our brains have altered as well, and any possible integration with ICT is welcome. Therefore, variables that underlie this process of ‘digital immigration’ are of interest both theoretically and practically, as are the outcomes of such adoption of ICT. Contributions that include clinical, empirical, and biological studies, as well as systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and theoretical and modeling proposals of these phenomena are of interest.
Keywords: ageing, ICT, human-computer interaction, digital divide, cognition, human development
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