The WhatsApp, the preferred application for grandparents

by Kelvin
The WhatsApp, the preferred application for grandparents

The elders have long since 'click' with technology and were coaxed of the social networks, shortening that digital divide that separates them with the younger generations. Not that they are the fastest typing – we have all seen as the 'writing …' of a mother in Whatsapp it becomes endless- however it is the application most used by adults of 65 years. This is collected by the researcher of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of the UOC Andrea Rosales.

A collective that since the appearance of smartphones and Internetdoes a increasingly intense use of the network and of its applications. Thus, almost 50% are already connected from home, and the smartphone has become the device they use most to connect, 82.9% among those over 65.


As for the use of WhatsApp, the instant messaging application, plays a central role in everyday life of the elderly who are familiar with the new technologies. It is the application they access most often: an average of 16.9 accesses per day (the population average is 26.4). The main reasons are those pointed out by the UOC researchers Andrea Rosales and Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, from the Communication Networks & Social Change (CNSC) group, in their study 'Beyond WhatsApp: Older people and smartphones'(2016): social pressure and the economic factor.

«The fact that their environment has it pushes them to download it to feel emotionally connected with family and friends at any time. This does not mean that during the day they are permanently aware of the device and the application in particular, but that they are making brief queries repeatedly over time, ”explains Rosales. In the end, it becomes another channel of socialization.

«What also tilts the balance for use is that the sending of messages and voice calls are included in the telephone quota. In Belgium and Canada, unlimited SMS is often already included in the mobile quota and this makes older people see it, as the general population, as a cheap communication service, ”he adds.

Unlike younger users, they prefer communicate important events or bad news and keep long conversations via voice calls. "They are made by the mobile line or by WhatsApp," explains Rosales. Some seniors also complain that everything is resolved with a text message and that, therefore, communication loses a lot. «For them, the voice allows to transmit and perceive emotions and be more spontaneous».

In addition, this communication channel is, for them, safer than Facebook. "They believe that in this way they can better control the final audience of their messages," says the expert.

"Spamers in series", a myth

Younger WhatsApp users see those over 65 as 'serial spamers' . "Children and grandchildren often complain about the forwarding they make of images, audios or other types of information, but this is a subjective perception," says Rosales. They do not do it more often than other users of other generations. «Sometimes our friends or other close people send third-party content and we don't perceive them in the same way. The fact is that we see everything that doesn't interest us as spam, ”he adds.

There are studies ―Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook', from the University of New York and Princeton University, or' Duty, Identity, Credibility: Fake news and the ordinary people in India ', from the BBC – who point to this group as one of the most likely to share fake news. Rosales explains that older people who have entered later than other generations in the world of new technologies later develop the skills to discern what is false news and what is not. "It is not that they are more likely to viralize false news because they are older, but because they have reached the world of new technologies after the rest and, like everyone else, need time to become familiar and build digital skills," says the researcher.

Own social norms and drafted

As for the chat groups, work with different dynamics. «Negotiate and establish specific social consumption standards that may come from the landline. The messages sent later than 10 at night are not well seen. And as for the communication in groups, as well as the individual, while among the youngest it is often frowned upon to write with good spelling and grammar in this application, his writing is careful. “They use a more elaborate language, tildes, points, etc., and people who have not had so many opportunities to educate themselves prefer not to write to avoid making mistakes,” says Rosales.

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