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    Online communities for older users: what can we learn from local community interactions to create social sites that work for older people

    HCI 2014 - Sand, Sea & Sky - Holiday HCI

    Proceedings of the 28th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2014)

    Southport, UK, 9 - 12 September 2014


    Dave Harley, Kate Howland, Eric Harris & Cara Redlich



    This study looked at the significance of family and local community connections in determining online community engagement amongst a sample of older people in the south of England. Four catalysts were identified which motivated engagement with local and online forms of community and these were: family, roles, loss and ‘spaces and places’. SNS use (primarily Facebook) was largely family-focussed but alternative social motives were evident in relation to other forms of online community. There was a clear preference for meeting face to face with online communities and social networking sites being used predominantly as tools for achieving this aim. Exploration of the catalysts offers ways that greater community involvement might be further facilitated through social and design initiatives. Suggestions include private ‘family rooms’ within Facebook, anonymous ‘sharing spaces’ in elder-specific communities and a focus on hyperlocal initiatives to connect local and online communities.


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