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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Costa, Cristina, Gilliland, Gemma & McWatt, Jennifer (2019). ‘I want to keep up with the younger generation’ - older adults and the web: a generational divide or generational collide? International Journal of Lifelong Education 38(5): 566-578.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper considers the social significance of digital technologies in older adults’ lives by exploring the impact the web has on their lived experiences. The study of digital literacies and digital cultures is mostly focused on youth, thus paying limited attention to older adults’ engagement with the web. With this paper, we aim to contribute to under-theorised debates of older adults’ digital experiences beyond generalisations of generational and/or digital divides. Focus groups interviews with older adults enrolled in sessions on digital literacies were used to get insight into this cohort’s online experiences. The findings revealed that older adults’ key motivation to become digitally literate was driven by a desire of remaining relevant in a contemporary world, in other words, of cultivating their identity as active citizens in a digital society. We offer considerations and reflections on the findings through the application of the works of Karl Mannheim to the phenomenon investigated.

School of Education