Use of New Media by Individuals in Early old Age
This project focuses on the penetration of new media into the life of society and the individual during the post-revolution development of Czech society, more precisely, among individuals in early old age. This is a specific age group of people who are still at a productive time of life and often experience a transformation in their own household – children leaving the nest. This generation, who, in their productive age, were strongly connected with socialism, grew up during the boom of another medium – television. Hence the question: does (and if so, in what way) this generation perceive new media in relation to changes in society since the 1989 revolution? Related to the theory of risk society introduced by Ulrich Beck (Beck, 1992), there is the question of how new media participate in experiencing and managing the new risks in the risk society. According to my hypothesis, new media deal with age-related risks in two ways - first, new media help individuals to deal with such risks, and, second, new media itself are a kind of risk. For example, expecting to be unable to use new media might be a serious handicap when searching for a new job. It is important to know how this generation – the one that is most endangered by possible job cuts – is getting used to life with new media. Demographic categories, such as the age group, are dominant in conversations about the digital divide. That is why the digital divide issue among this generation and in the social and historical context of the Czech Republic will also be investigated. This topic of the digital divide will be explored from the perspective of four successive types of access: motivational, physical, skills and usage (van Dijk, 2005). An important question in this respect is whether media have any influence on the quality of life of an individual, e.g. whether obtaining the skills required to use new media might result in denying or deferring the fact of getting older. The main methodological approach is qualitative: in-depth interviews, observations and focus groups are at the core of my methodology. In conclusion, the purpose of my paper is to understand how those who have not grown up with new media are getting used to living with them, what benefits these new media offer them, how they deal with them in their everyday lives and what the potential risks of their use or non-use are.