60-90 year olds, photos and sharing on social media - Oxford Brookes Academics helping to link memories, images and wellbeing with the local community

Friday, 22 November 2019

Older People and tech

The importance of photos and sharing them on social media for 60 - 90 year olds has been highlighted by a team of Oxford Brookes University academics.

The importance of photos and sharing them on social media for 60 - 90 year olds has been highlighted by a team of Oxford Brookes University academics. 

Connecting memories: Photos, digital tools and wellbeing, is the theme of a community project and exhibition, developed by Dr Sarah Quinton from Oxford Brookes Business School and Professor Daniela Treveri Gennari, from the University’s School of Arts.

A community research project was undertaken with local people aged between 60-90 years old, who took part in a series of workshops. During these workshops, the participants shared their own photos via smart mobile phones, tablets and also in hard copy with others, and discussed what these images meant, and how they connected with others through images. 

Powerful stories emerged about people’s past lives, including tales of nostalgia from the Windrush Generation, to photos and experiences of Oxford from decades ago. Feelings were expressed about what it means to share and receive photos of people, events, stories of migration from across the globe and the strong desire for connection to other people, whether enabled by digital technology or face to face. A number of the participants used Whatsapp or Facebook groups to connect with family members from all over the world, from the Caribbean to Australia or nationally, to Scotland.

The subsequent exhibition featuring some of the images and personal stories captured in audio clips, kindly permitted by the local people who participated, shows the visitor what it means to connect and share with others and how older people are engaging with digital tools to enhance their lives as well as deal with loneliness.

Dr Quinton commented on the holistic health benefits of the digital tools to an older generation: 

“The importance of wellbeing, beyond physical health, as a central element to living a positive life, is now widely recognised and as we have an ageing population, there is a need to better understand how we may be able to enhance wellbeing as people age. At the same time, the usage of digital technologies is increasing in everyday life, from social media to online banking, across a widening age range of people. 

“Whilst research has already established that images and photographs are powerful connectors for humans generally, little work has been conducted with older people and their use of digital tools for connectivity. Investigating the components of wellbeing such as positive relations and connectivity with others, through image-based digital tools, provides practical insight for both academics  and policymakers.”

The Connecting memories: Photos, digital tools and wellbeing exhibition will be launched on Tuesday 26 November 2019, from 5 - 8pm. Daily, until 12 December. Location: The Lab Space, Abercrombie Building, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BP.