News & Events

Pao looks for techo answers

June 25, 2018

Researcher Pao Franco could turn out to be one of the ageing community’s myth busters. His research into ‘consumers’ experiences with technology’ may turn out to be yet another chapter in the story of how older people are wrongly pigeonholed.

Pao, 27, is working with residents at OCAV’s Rushall Park village in North Fitzroy as part of his PhD research at Melbourne University into the ‘take-up’ of new technology, such as iPads, smart phones and television, and how this technology becomes a part of people’s lives.

A lot of the research on consumers’ connection with their technology is centred around the behaviours of younger people. Pao wants a more intergenerational approach and is now focusing on older people, having completed most of his research with younger consumers. His experience to date with Rushall Park residents has encouraged him to believe that there are way too many misconceptions about older consumers.

“A lot of the discourse in the media portrays older people as disconnected and disinterested in technology. But many older people are very connected to technology through work and have maintained their skills or because they see it as a useful tool,” Pao said. “But more and more research studies are pushing against the stereotypes and finding a very different picture amongst the older population.”

“A lot of technology has been designed for a certain age, often with a younger consumer in mind. So if you are an older user, some technology is not designed for you and of course there will be problems with its use.”

Pao has become familiar with many of the Rushall Park residents through his weekly IT trouble shooting sessions as a volunteer in the library. He helps residents who have any problems with their technology or want to be walked through the setting up of new laptops, phones or iPads. Look out around the village for his flier with times and dates.

Some residents have already agreed to be part of the formal interview process for Pao’s studies and he is still looking for a few more people.

While Pao’s PhD is a long way from completion, his work has given him some interesting insights into how consumers of different ages experience technology, particularly how it relates to relationships. For most people it is a way of staying connected to others and for older users it is a great tool to stay in touch with the various generations within their family.

“I hope my research will help us understand how technologies become part of our lives; and how everyone (including seniors) might be able to enrich their lives through the possibilities that technologies can open up,” Pao said.

Evon makes it a priority to help people make the move into a village as easy as possible. She also works to ensure the new residents feel a strong sense of welcome and belonging.

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