The Importance of ICT in the Social Support Networks and in the Citizenship of the Portuguese Elderly

The Importance of ICT in the Social Support Networks and in the Citizenship of the Portuguese Elderly

Marisa Carla Barros Fonseca Silva (School of Technology and Management of Lamego, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4373-4.ch019
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Abstract

The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) contain properties that easily convert into solutions for people with special needs, contributing to their inclusion in everyday life. The possibility to intervene and participate in acts of communication in interpersonal settings and distance learning, or simply the possibility of using a device that simulates the vocalization of requests, greetings, and caresses gain a redoubled sense in the efforts to include citizens with special needs, as it does to the senior citizens, in societies attempting to promote equal opportunities among its members. This chapter focuses on the interaction between the elderly and the information and communication technologies and the impact that that interaction has on their participation in society.
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Background

The impact of ICT use, and more specifically the computer and the Internet’s impact has on the increase of seniors social capital and in the promotion of their (re)integration into society was a theme already studied in some works, especially in the international context, such as Spain, the United States, Ireland and Scotland (the latter by comparing the Swedish senior). In the Portuguese case there is a certain hiatus of research on this subject.

Among the work carried out in the international context we can highlight the study of Manuel Area Moreira (1998), entitled Desigualdades, educación y nuevas tecnologías, which states that ICTs have harmful side effects on the social system, including, target and increase cultural and economic distances between sectors integrated in the technological development and the population excluded from this development, since a certain economic and cultural level to acquire these tools is an essential factor for this type of inclusion.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sociocultural Capital: The expected collective benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups.

Senior: Elderly person.

Social Network: A social structure made up of a set of actors, such as individuals or organizations, and the dyadic ties between these actors.

Personal Network: A set of human contacts known to an individual, with whom that individual would expect to interact at intervals to support a given set of activities.

Virtual Community: A social network of individuals who interact through specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals.

Information Age: Ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously.

Citizen: Person how participates actively in the society.

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