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Researching The Impact of Playful Digital Interactions On The Lives and Identities of Lonely Seniors: Methodological Challenges
The current pandemic only highlights the ever-increasing public health threat of loneliness which is especially dangerous among the often socially isolated population of the elderly. Various types of digital interactions or virtual experiences may prove to be effective technologies for implementing cost-effective solutions without further contributing to the alarming lack of human resources in social care. However, even though the use of new technologies such as AR/VR, social robots, smartphone applications, or voice assistants in the remote social care context has been largely researched, there is a clear lack of more in-depth evidence on the impact such digital interventions may have on the identities and everyday lives of the seniors. Therefore, this research project aims to understand the lived experiences of the elderly through data collection and analysis methods of digital phenomenology. In May 2021, 15 elderly people will be enabled and motivated to regularly interact with 15 volunteers via various platforms including voice messages, video calls, and simple social games. In his proposed contribution to the conference, the author strives to present and unravel numerous methodological challenges he had to address when preparing for field research in the extraordinarily intimate context of lonely senior’s homes.