Older persons' experiences of the role of cell phone use : implications for needs
MetadataShow full item record
This study (secondary data analysis) formed part of a broader research project (IGNITe) that used parallel mixed methods research design to explore older persons’ usage patterns of mobile technology and intergenerational relationships. The focus of the presented study was older persons, the role of cell phone use and how this related to their needs. Within an African context, the number of older persons is increasing rapidly and the same is true in South Africa, where the average age of the populace has shifted from very young to intermediate. Projections indicate that the percentage of older persons will continue to grow. This creates the possibility for older persons to remain part of their families for longer and mobile technology is one of the methods to maintain relational connections. Older persons use cell phones when it suits their specific needs. The theoretical framework underlining this study was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which revolves around people’s motivations to satisfy specific needs. The hierarchy consists of lower levels of basic needs and higher levels beyond basic needs; people only attempt satisfying the needs on the one level after those of a preceding level have been satisfied. These needs include: biological and physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, self-actualization needs and transcendence needs. The more important the need the greater a person’s motive to satisfy this need. People have different needs, which cell phones can satisfy more efficiently than other media. Two categories of motives/gratifications were distinguished in telephone (cell phone) communication studies, namely intrinsic and instrumental. Intrinsic or social motives pertain to communication and cell phone use to achieve companionship, whereas instrumental, utilitarian, extrinsic or task-oriented motives involve using cell phones for practical reasons. Only a small number of studies focussing on older persons’ motives, expectations and needs relating to cell phone usage exist and little is known about this phenomenon in developing countries, including South Africa. Only qualitative data from the primary study (IGNITe) were used for the secondary analysis. The data consisted of a purposive sample of 52 individuals (aged 65–89 years). The Mmogo-method® (n=19) and semi-structured interviews (n=33) focussed on how participants use their cell phones. The collected data (audio recordings) were transcribed and used to identify themes by means of thematic analysis. Participants identified various roles that cell phones play in their lives, expressing that they use their cell phones to satisfy the following needs: a need to feel safe, a need to maintain a sense of control, a need for an aid in their daily routine, and a need to stay connected with family and friends. From the findings it was clear that cell phones play an important role in the lives of older persons and that this role relates to specific needs that they would like to satisfy. These themes related to Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs and satisfying these needs by using their cell phones can possibly contribute to an older person’s total well-being. Further research on this topic is recommended to fill the gap in knowledge, as well as improving and contributing to the well-being of older persons within a South African context.
- Humanities