Older persons' mobile phone usage in Tlokwe Local Municipality: implications for disaster risk communication
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The pace at which the technology of mobile phones is developing, provides one with new possibilities especially when contemplating the effect that mobile phones could have on older persons' care and well-being. The mobile phone has over the last couple of years largely replaced other devices with its capability to access the internet. This development has paved the way in which disaster risk communication can be modernised and improved, specifically to benefit at-risk older persons. Many older persons are vulnerable because of various physical and mental difficulties which accompany ageing and as such they are frequently strongly impacted by the occurrence of disasters. It is therefore contemplated that mobile phones can be used as a communication medium to educate, inform and assist vulnerable older persons regarding disasters risks. However, not much is known about older persons' mobile phone usage patterns in South Africa. It is therefore difficult to develop a strategy by which their vulnerability can be addressed by means of a mobile phone. It is the purpose of this study to examine older persons' mobile phone usage patterns and to converse whether these devices can be used to enhance the resilience of older persons to the effect of disaster risks. This was achieved by firstly quantitatively examining the mobile phone usage patterns of older persons within the Tlokwe Local Municipality (TLM) to determine which functions they use and to what extent. Following this, qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with disaster and communication managers at the Tlokwe Disaster Management Centre (TDMC) in order to ascertain their experiences and viewpoint regarding the use of mobile phones to alleviate older persons' disaster risk. This research established that older persons do make use of their mobile phones and also understand how to use key functions of the phone to communicate. However, the TDMC do not necessarily regard older persons as a key stakeholder during disaster communication processes and has therefore not contemplated using mobile phones to communicate with older persons about disaster risks.
- Humanities