Discussion Papers

Renate Wald, Frank Stöckler

Telekommunikation und ältere Menschen

Nr. 62 / Februar 1991

(rework 1992) Summary It is obvious that the telephone is part of our everyday life. For the elderly this is correct in a special sense: Communication by telephone is a communication style they prefer, because they may start or stop communication at their decisions. Communication by telephone has different functions for the elderly: It ensures privacy in a sense of "intimacy over distance". Telecommunication is also useful for the initiation and the stabilization of social contacts and for the organization of everyday life. For the elderly, living alone or in a home for the elderly, the telephone is a lifeline: Telecommunication offers social integration and security. These are a few results of this study, which analyzes the specific research on gerontology, the few empirical studies on the sociology of the telephone and the telecommunication projects concerning special needs of the elderly. The study identifies some deficiencies of knowledge and research, it is also an outline for a specific empirical research on telecommunication behaviour of the elderly. This study also underlines the necessity of an user oriented research on terminal development, user interfaces and telecommunication services. In so far this study is a first step on the way to a constructive technology assessment in this field. [Only German language version available.]

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