Ageism refers back to the stereotypes (how we expect), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) we’d hold towards others or ourselves based on age.

Ageism is a singular type of discrimination, on condition that it’s universal — it’s also known as the last acceptable type of discrimination. Ageism often intersects with other types of discrimination, including sexism, racism and ableism.

When it involves the event and distribution of technology, ageism has vital implications. It not only shapes whether recent technologies are adopted by older adults, nevertheless it also influences how recent technologies are developed and marketed.

In recent years, there was increasing awareness of how digital technologies and platforms can discriminate on the bases of gender, race and class. However, ageism has received less attention.

Artificial intelligence, health-care technologies, and monitoring and surveillance systems, amongst others, are increasingly being integrated into the lives of older people.

Older adults are increasingly using technology of their on a regular basis lives.
(Centre for Ageing Better), CC BY

Technologies play vital roles in on a regular basis life, and it is necessary to research how older people’s uses of technology are influenced by ageism, self-perception and identity.

As a social gerontologist considering ageism (Stephanie Hatzifilalithis), my questions are threefold: 1) Why don’t we do our greatest to create technologies which might be based on principles of universal design? 2) How does ageism affect technology, and vice versa? and three) Why aren’t we listening to older people when designing tech for his or her use?

People like us

In a 2017 episode of the Netflix show , the protagonists (played by Jane Fonda, now 84 and Lily Tomlin, 83), resolve to revolutionize the vibrator market to “create products for people like us.”

After Grace suffers an arthritis flare-up caused by utilizing a sex toy, the chums design a vibrator that conforms to principles of universal design. Grace and Frankie then attempt to pitch their product, with little luck.

While Grace and Frankie are forces to be reckoned with, they’re fictional characters. In the true world, employees at the most important tech firms are overwhelmingly young, white and male.

In my postdoctoral work with social and important gerontologist Nicole Dalmer, we study how ageism is each produced and reproduced within the context of experience and design. We take a look at how older people take into consideration, speak about and experience the technologies (and their related data) that play a task of their lives.

We are also considering how those that are involved within the design and development of technologies understand the potential effects of ageism.

Involving older people

Our work is a component of a growing movement towards the importance and appreciation of person-centered, participatory and visual design and research methods. Other researchers have suggested a framework to guide co-designing technology with older people.

Co-design is a well-established design approach that isn’t widely used yet amongst older people. It is a vital aspect of our current research to make sure that our project is informed, directed and influenced by older people, and that the project’s outcomes are meaningfully aligned with their needs, experiences and expertise.

By specializing in each designers and older-adult end-users, we hope that our research will highlight best practices in the event of technologies that support independent living and enhance social participation in later life in a meaningful way.

Co-design means involving end users within the design and development stages of a technology.

This is not going to only help to avoid costly barriers to technology adoption, but will help alleviate the increasing challenges of technologically related discrimination, exclusion, and inclusion that each explicitly and implicitly color and shape experiences of aging.

Researchers, designers and technology developers must take the initiative and spend time to think through personal biased related to age-based stereotypes to design tech with older people.

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