Tag Archives: older adults

Silver Training: Older adults’ engagement with a video game training program.


Numerous games have been designed for the younger population. In addition, researchers have investigated younger players for cognitive and behavioural effects from playing video games. Many terminologies have been defined by researchers; player experience; player engagement and player enjoyment to mention a few. Do all of these terms mean one and the same construct, or are these different? The challenge is to identify key attributes to establish clear methods and measures to define player engagement.

Reference Information

Belchior, P., Marsiske, M., Sisco, S., Yam, A., & Mann, W. (2012). Older adults’ engagement with a video game training program. Activities, adaptation & aging, 36(4), 269–279. doi:10.1080/01924788.2012.702307



In comparison to studies on the effects of video games on younger adults, fewer studies have been focused on the effects of video games on the aging population. However, this area of research is growing in the area of using games for older population in the realm of cognitive deterioration and memory impairment, rehabilitation, social isolation, mental distress, emotional challenges. In this paper the authors argue that the use of video games to train the visual attention of the older population was more interesting and engaging than traditional brain training. The current intervention study focused on the engagement of older adults.

To measure engagement, the authors used the concept of flow  [1] which is the state of heightened absorption in an activity and establishes a relation between the challenges of the game and the skills of the player. Continue reading

Prosumers: Older Adults as Digital Content Generators



Futurologist Alvin Toffler coined the term Prosumer in his book the Third Wave (1980), when he predicted that the role of producers and consumers would begin to blur and merge. Personalization, mass customization and social media have lead to the “prosumption” of   digital media content on the web. Ubiquitous technologies and pervasive computing has additionally furthered the proliferation of “prosumption” on the web.

Reference Information

Jenny, W., Frank, V., Sonja, P., Lars, K., Elizabeth, O., Alan, G., & Downs, J. (2013). Older Adults as Digital Content Producers. In CHI  ’13 (pp. 39–48).


Normally older adults have been considered as consumers of digital content. Providing older adults with access to digital resources has been an interesting area of research. The authors claim that while accessibility to digital resources is important, it does not sufficient in the realm of establishing social relationships.  The paper investigates the relevance of digital content produced by older adults and its influence on forging new social relationships.

Based on the investigation, the authors conclude that older adults are willing to embrace social engagement and self–expression with their peers when technology facilitated this interaction.



Much research has been focused on user-generated content and young people. Older people have been overlooked as content creators and were considered to be consumers of this content. Social media technologies are also geared to older adults such that they have easy access to digital content produced by others.

The authors indicate that researching the communication preferences of older adults necessitates the need to gear social technologies in a way to allow older people to express their individuality and engage in reciprocal communications. The authors argue that current research has focused on participatory design with older adults, their interactions with different interfaces and their attitudes towards new technologies.

A few technologies that encourage social connections which the authors review where the older adults are consumers of digital content are as follows:

Design Technology Opportunities/Challenges
Digital   Photo Frames(consumers) Family   members can send photographs and messages to their relatives Older   adults who are socially isolated may not have family and friends to   communicate with:
Building   Bridges Project(consumers) Communication   device used to build connections within a group of older adults who did not   know each other 160   characters limitations
Photostroller(consumers) Streaming   images (from Flickr) on a device attached to a stroller Residents   viewed content together, relating life histories.
Online   digital communities(producers) Forum   for older adults Sharing   life challenges, joy of contribution
Collective   memory(producers) Storytelling   about their neighbourhood Co-creation   of online content
Video   Blogger(producers) Life   experiences on the web Support   from online viewers
Wayve   Device(producers) device   was used to display and send photographs, text messages, handwritten notes   and drawings grandfather,   in particular, embraced the opportunity to produce content to share with his   family; creative   and playful intergenerational messaging

Based on the research of the above technologies the authors developed Enmesh (ENgagement through MEdia SHaring), an iPad application to create and share photographs and messages. However the challenge that I am facing is whether this application was unique in comparison to the Wayve product.

Study   Design Description Comments
Hypothesis Older   adults as producers of online content(   photographs and messages)
Pilot study No Pilot Study
Participants Seven   participants (F=5, M=2)2 Care   managers Seven older   adults (aged 71-92 years) Not known to each other, 2 socials were held to   introduce one another.
Method Interviews at   start, middle and end of studyCare managers   were interviewed at the end.
Time interval 3 Months
Materials IPad, Enmesh   application, common interface
Procedure 3 month trial   period; First two weeks participants shared photographs; social; six weeks ;   social; interviews Socials were   conducted to enable participants to meet and know each other outside of the   online would
Measures Interviews
Findings Social   interaction between the participants increased with comments on their posted   photographs.

The authors designed their own social media application Enmesh as a means to provide a portal for peer to peer sharing of photos and digital content, and building small communities. Enmesh served as an application where older adults could share stories about their lives in personal and creative ways.

The introduction section of the paper has a lot of repetitions’ where the statement “we focus on older adults as content producers” has been repeated three times.  I am surprised that this paper carried out only qualitative research in the form of interviews.  The number of participants was quite low to conduct any statistical analysis on the data.  From a CHI perspective, perhaps, I believe that this paper was published purely on selective nature of the population sample.  I could not find any major difference between the Wayve product and the Enmesh product.


The authors indicate that their findings indicated that to be a producer of digital content; the technology should provide opportunities for self-expression and creativity and how the content will be displayed and shared with others. The users were both the content creators and the audience. The application enabled successful social interactions between the participants through messaging and responses to one another’s photographs. According to the authors; they trialed a socio-technical system involving technology, social events and a care organization. Even though I felt that the application was not unique, the authors presented older adults as producers of digital content and build new social connections.

Image Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=100186406

Intergenerational Gameplay



Research has shown that one of the key aspects of overcoming loneliness amongst older adults is the fostering of relationships’ between older persons and grandchildren. Intergenerational activities help to enable conversations on similar interest topics, and activities leading to happiness and a feeling of belongingness. Gaming technologies have helped to bridge gaps across physical and social distances.

Reference Information

Rice, M., Tan, W. P., Ong, J., Yau, L. J., Wan, M., & Ng, J. (2013). The dynamics of younger and older adult’s paired behavior when playing an interactive silhouette game. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI  ’13, 1081. doi:10.1145/2470654.2466138



The paper investigates the design of a novel gesture-based game and evaluated the behavior of intergenerational gameplay. The authors divided the sample population into (i) Young-Young, (ii) Old-Old, and (iii) Young-Old to evaluate the communicative and cooperative behavior of same-age and mixed-age pairs. The authors took a mixed-methods approach combining direct observations, post-game questionnaires. The authors indicated that their results showed a greater physical cooperation between the group-type, Young-Old, as compared to the same-age groups. The paper indicated that the expectations of the young and old differ a lot and their perceived interaction also differs; hence it is critical to understand the nuances of expectations and interaction requirements allowing for intergenerational gameplay.  The article explores the value of intergenerational games and proposes a few recommendations for future research. Continue reading

Assistive Technologies for Aging Gracefully.


The growing population of baby boomers leads to serious challenges in the method of coping up with the challenges of aging. Modern advancements in medicine have resulted in providing the longevity but at the same time there seems to be no evidence of an eternal fountain of youth as a panacea for ailments that comes along with aging.  Decline in cognitive abilities, challenges in physical abilities, decline in motor skills, emotional loneliness, mental distress and social isolation are a few of the challenges facing the aging population (Czaja et al., 2008). This demographic has been neglected over time in terms of understanding their needs and their adaptability to information systems and technology. This paper explores the challenges faced in integrating technology towards assistive care.

Reference Information

Baecker, R. M., Moffatt, K., & Massimi, M. (2012). Technologies for Aging Gracefully. Interactions, 32–36.


The paper starts off with the stark reality that “the world is aging”. While longevity enhanced by modern medicine is a desirable aspect of life, with aging comes the challenges of sensory, motor, cognitive and social isolation.  Cognitive and physical challenges of older adults define the limitations and opportunities for them to participate in leisurely and recreational activities. Most usability studies have been conducted with younger adults, and a study of the limitations and abilities of older adults would help develop usability criteria for designing games for this demographic. Technology must enhance the lifestyle of older adults as a means to provide them with freedom, mobility and interdependence on one another in a social group. There should not be any discrimination in the use and experience of devices and technology for older adults and persons with disabilities. The concept of a barrier free living environment needs to be extended to the field of leisurely activities, personal entertainment and social interaction. The author formed Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab) in 2009 with the aim of enabling full participation in society by individuals with special needs i.e. peole afflicted with Alzhimer’s Disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), amnesia, aphasia, strokes, multiple sclerosis (MS) or vision loss. In the hierarchy of human needs as defined by Maslow, TAGlab focused its attention on the top three needs i.e. the love or social needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs.


The authors framed the relevance of technology in relation to the improvement of lives of senior citizens using Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The following table indicates the work done by the authors and others in the realm of assistive technologies for the enhancement of the lifestyle of older adults. Continue reading