Draft Programme Session: Social Isolation and Loneliness (STS58)

November 23, 2016

Session Type: Workshop


The role of technology in social isolation and loneliness in later life

Social Isolation and Loneliness amongst older people attracts wide attention. A quarter of people over 60 (Yang and Victor, 2011) are estimated to be lonely, and more than 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely. Although this figure has remained stable over the last 50 years the number of older people is continuing to grow. The UK population currently has 1 in 6 people over 65 which is set to rise to 1 in 4 by 2033. Where loneliness and social isolation occurs for older people, research indicates this leads to a poorer quality of life and increased demands on health and social services.

The potential for older people to use and be connected by technology has never been greater. Not only is the internet now more widely and easily accessible but also the equipment to use it has become cheaper, more mobile and ubiquitous. A major feature of the new technologies is the combination of both interpersonal and mass communication functions.  Relatively new developments such as social media or robotics are arguably transforming the way people are connecting together. New technologies may be on the verge of a breakthrough for use by older people as the technology changes and becomes more pervasive and ubiquitous in everyday life.

This workshop will aim to explore the role of technology in reducing social isolation and loneliness in later life by drawing on a mix of academic and practice research, as well as discussion of initiatives which have been introduced by AGE UK, the UKs largest charity dedicated to supporting people in later life.


Proposed titles include:

  • Exploring loneliness amongst older people and their engagement with new technologies to alleviate it
  • Loneliness and internet use; a substitute or supplement for social interaction?
  • Keeping in touch: use of social media in combatting social isolation among Chinese older people in Britain
  • Combatting loneliness through Age UKs Digital Strategy



Please submit your short communication:

Submit your short communication.

You can submit a short 900 word communication, on or around this topic, now until 7th April 2017.



Contact: Dr Andrea Wigfield, Care Connect
Email: a.wigfield@sheffield.ac.uk
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