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Can sharing photographs online help tackle loneliness in older people?

Senior Lecturer in Marketing Dr Sarah Quinton is co-leading a research project investigating whether sharing photographs via social media can enhance the wellbeing of older people, and reduce loneliness.

The project, which is being run by Sarah alongside Professor Shailey Minocha of The Open University, is looking at people aged 60 and over. It aims to find out whether taking photographs and sharing them via email or social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram may help overcome social isolation.

Sarah said: “We want to investigate how older people communicate with others through digital technologies and social media, particularly how sharing photographs acts as a vehicle to share life experiences and interests.

“Through this study we will explore the perceived value of photo sharing online in tackling social isolation and loneliness in older people but also its benefits to people’s wellbeing and cognitive function. The results will provide actionable insight for organisations that support older people in later life.”

Previous research carried out by Sarah and Professor Minocha with Age UK Milton Keynes, found that online social interactions help in alleviating social isolation and loneliness, particularly if older people are able to match online interactions with their interests.

This project specifically investigates how photography and online sharing can help towards older people’s social connectivity and how it can be used for maintaining their relationships with family and friends and making new connections.

The project is funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and supported by Age UK Milton Keynes.

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