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Since the popularization of the internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs), the access of older people to the digital society was limited and their engagement grew slowly. However, recently there has been an increase in access to these technologies, fostered by the popularity of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and their widespread adoption by older adults (DiDuca et al., 2007; Fernández-Ardèvol and Prieto, 2012; Madden, 2010; Tsai et al., 2015). In this context, it is necessary to ask again how older adults use and learn to use these technologies in their everyday life moving away from conventional forms of understanding learning as a cognitive and instructional practice. Rather than simply describing the difficulties that learning how to use technologies and engaging with the dig- ital society brings to older people, this paper offers lively experiences about how the prac- tices are co-constituted and defined by people, technologies and places.

In this article we show, through vignettes, how learning happens in later life through de- scribing several learning practices that are different from each other. However, what these learning practices have in common is that all of them are relational and affective. The research on which this paper draws is an ethnographic study of everyday life practices in social media of a group of older adults. With this, we intend to make visible the particular micro-dynamics of everyday learning from an interactional perspective. We focus on (1) the social relationships assembled as a highly imbricated element in the learning processes; (2) the role and meaning of the technological objects – as the different artefacts that are cre- ated with the use devices and software – and; (3) the actions/relations about the learning practices that these assemblages of people and technologies enact. Relationships, objects and actions, in turn, promulgate discourses about age and old age in relation to the digital. The vignettes reveal some important insights into how people use and learn social media technologies.

About the authors

Roser Beneito-Montagut
Roser Beneito-Montagut is Lecturer in Digital Social Sciences at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University (UK). In 2019 she was ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bremen, Germany. She is a member of the Digital Sociology Research Group (DSrG) and was a member of Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS). She is also associated with the Care and Prepar- edness in the Network Society (Carenet) research group at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute in the Open University of Catalonia (Spain). She is interested in digital ethnographic projects and also excited about the critical exploration of the possibilities that the use of what is being called “big data” has opened up for social researchers to better understand what is going on in society. Her current research focuses on how social media “affects“ everyday life social relationships and every- day life mediated affects (and emotions). She is particularly interested in studying social media ex- perience in later life, the emerging notions of care in digital societies and social isolation. During the past years she has conducted research in interdisciplinary settings, working with computer scientists, engineers and social scientists. She was a research fellow in a EU funded project (Disaster 2.0) en- quiring the role of Social Media and its adoption by public sector organizations for risk and crisis communication. More recently, she was PI in a research project studying social media use in later life and she is currently co-investigator on an international research project entitled “Being Con- nected at Home: Making use of digital devices in later life”. Her research has been funded by a number of organizations and has been published in several peer-refereed journals, such as Qualitative Research and Sociological Perspectives.

Arantza Begueria
Arantza Begueria is Research Assistant at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3, Open University of Catalonia) in the research project “Elderly and Social Media: Bridging the gap of eMarginality through social media” funded by Recercaixa” and led by Roser Beneito. She holds a BA in Social Anthropology and a BA in Audiovisual Communication and she is currently following a Master’s pro- gramme in Anthropology and Ethnography (University of Barcelona). Her main research interests in- clude the study of social media and everyday life, and the interactions between the body, health and technology.

Nizaiá Cassián Yde
Researcher Nizaiá Cassián Yde’s R&I work focuses on analysing the contemporary city’s forms of bio- political governance and spatial governmentality. She is a doctoral degree holder in Social Psychology and professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at the Universitat Oberta de Ca- talunya. Her field of research is in the connection between urban studies, transformations in the productive-spatial model in the contemporary post-Fordist city, and feminist perspectives that tackle socio-spatial relationships in the field of work, care and body. In her work, she is interested in the relationships between urban planning, intervention in the public space and how particular forms of spatialization are related to the conception and governance of the productive body and urban infra- structures of care, creating inclusion/exclusion effects.