The United States Census predicts that by 2030, one in five people will be over the age of 65, with similar trends globally. Such rapid growth of the older adult population presents opportunities and challenges for social connectedness and well-being. Opportunities include learning from older adults who are engaging online and offline in creative and unexpected ways. Challenges include supporting the social and emotional well-being of those with inequitable access to in-person and digital support networks and communities. In this talk, I will offer an alternative to how we think about aging, social connectedness, and technology use by leveraging a positive aging framework. I will discuss three projects that (1) present how active older adults engage in online communities, (2) challenge a dichotomous framing of older adults’ online engagement, and (3) show how older adults engage in innovative connectedness behaviors when encountering disruptions in their social spaces.
Robin Brewer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She also holds a courtesy appointment in Computer Science and Engineering. Her research lies at the intersection of accessibility and social computing where she studies how older adults and disabled people engage with technology, leveraging strengths of these communities to design for creativity, expression, and agency. Dr. Brewer holds a Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior from Northwestern University, M.S. in Human-Centered Computing from University of Maryland - Baltimore County, and B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland - College Park.
Faculty Host: Patrick Carrington