Keywords:ICT usage, older people, digital divide, digital immigrants, digital natives, digital spectrum, digital inequalities
Research on older people’s ICT usage tends to focus on either the ways in which they go about learning to use these technologies or the impact that ICTs have on their lives. This research seems, in other words, to take for granted that older people are ‘digital immigrants’ as the digital divide debate proposed. Research that specifically looks at the ways in which older ICT users make sense of their engagement with these technologies is still limited. This article explores therefore – through focus group interviews – how a group of older people who are active ICT users make sense of their ‘digital nativeness’. The analysis shows that the interviewees are well aware that their ICT proficiency differentiated them from their peers, which is why they make sense of their ICT usage by making reference to the issues that make them ‘exceptional’ older people. These include the fact that they have used computers for many years and therefore made ICT usage an everyday habit early on; the fact that most older people do not have the skills that they themselves have, which is why they feel the need to share them with others; and the fact that their lifelong experience means they can use these technologies in judicious ways. By bringing attention to how older active ICT users make sense of their engagement, this article contributes to the notion of the digital spectrum and the debate on the inequalities that ICT proficiency brings about.
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