Older people in a digital society: can sharing photographs help people to stay connected with others?

So my new funded research project has started and it’s one I am really excited about. This research project has been funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and is a joint project between my colleague Prof Shailey Minocha at The Open University and myself at Oxford Brookes University, with support from AgeUK, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

My new research project will explore the perceived benefits of sharing photos online and via social media for people over 60 years old.We are investigating whether sharing photographs online and through social media helps people over 60 years old to feel less socially isolated and whether sharing photos may enhance wellbeing. There is some existing research evidence to suggest that communicating with others through digital technologies and social media lessens feelings of loneliness and that photographs act as vehicles for sharing life experiences and interests between older people. The project will address the issues of ageing, loneliness, physical wellbeing, mental health, cognitive skills and memory through the use of photographs shared on the internet (e.g. via email) and also social media platforms (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp).

We hope that the results from this study will provide actionable recommendations for organisations that support older people in later life (e.g. AgeUK, Mind, Alzheimer’s Society) and that we will manage to secure funding to expand the project in the next eighteen months. Our data collection will take place between November 2017 and May 2018 with the results being available from Summer 2018.

If you happen to be reading this blog and are aged over 60, and share photos online do please complete the online survey which forms one part of the study. This should take you no more than 10 minutes.