chapter  5
14 Pages

Older people, smartphones and WhatsApp

ByMireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Andrea Rosales

This chapter explores the smartphone experiences of less researched people aged over 65 years. It compares evidence from recent studies in Spain that aimed to understand the communication practices of these older individuals, in particular, among those who consider WhatsApp to be one of the most important apps on their device. The discussion is mainly based on interviews, focus groups and an analysis of a WhatsApp group from studies supported by the Ageing + Communication + Technology project (http://actproject.ca/). Tracked log data of a sample of smartphone users is also employed to enrich qualitative observations. This empirical evidence is used to reflect on the processes of adoption, the everyday life routines around the device and the specific practices that the smartphone gave rise to, with a particular focus on WhatsApp and the affordances it brings to this age cohort. The main conclusions point to the importance of WhatsApp for older individuals as a socializing channel both within the family and with peers. Of particular interest is the negotiation of social norms relating to the chat groups that are supported by WhatsApp since, as a relatively new phenomenon, these led to controversies and new regulations.