Open Access

Maintaining Connections: Octo- and Nonagenarians on Digital ‘Use and Non-use’


The concepts of user and non-user are frequently deployed within media and communications literature. What do these terms mean if examined regarding age and ageing? In this article we explore and trouble these notions through an analysis of twenty-two conversations with a group of octogenarians and nonagenarians living in a retirement home. Their descriptions of their changing uses of media througout lifetime, and their encounters with mobile phones, computers, newspapers, television, radio and landline phones, are presented as a set of ‘techno-biographies’ that challenge binary divisions of use and non-use, linear notions of media adoption, and add texture to the idea of ‘the fourth age’ as a time of life bereft of decisional power. Speaking with octogenarians and nonagenarians provides insights into media desires, needs and uses, and opens up ‘non-use’ as a complex, variegated activity, rather than a state of complete inaction or disinterest.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Communication Science, Mass Communication, Public and Political Communication