ABSTRACT

Digital media use, as viewed from the perspective of the life course, yields interesting twists on commonly held beliefs about digital life, and midlife is perhaps one of the most interesting yet understudied periods to reveal the everyday impacts. Internet and social media use is frequently examined from the vantage point of younger users, possibly due to their high adoption rates and rapid embrace of new media forms, but this view can be incomplete, as it neglects the effects of accumulated life experience on perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours. Though lagging behind youth and young adults, digital media use by adults at older ages has grown rapidly in recent years (Ofcom, 2014; Smith, 2014b) and, not surprisingly, usage patterns of older persons appear to be different from those of younger persons both in terms of adoption of specific technologies and in how they are employed (Zickuhr, 2010). This signals that embedded relational practices and values may be reflected in everyday digital media use, a condition which potentially offers opportunities to contemplate not only a wider array of uses but also how these technologies might be considered and interpreted differently in various life phases.