“Being Connected” at Home: Making use of digital devices in later life

Period: December 2017 – November 2020

Source of funding: Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness (MINECO), Plan Nacional I+D+i

Programme and Call: Joint Programming Initiative “More Years, Better Lives” – Joint Transnational Call for Proposals 2017: Ageing and Place in a Digitising World.

Project reference: PCIN-2017-080

Partners: Utrecht University (The Netherlands), CareNet and CNSC  research groups of the IN3-UOC (Catalonia, Spain), Trent University (Peterborough, Canada), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden).

Principal investigator: Eugène Loos, Utrecht University (The Netherlands)

Principal investigator at IN3-UOC: Daniel López Gómez

Responsible at CNSC and Leader of WP I: Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol


This project investigates fundamental changes in the contemporary experience of later life, at the intersection of digital infrastructures, place and the experience of “being connected”. Thorugh BCONNECT@HOME we address a research gap by exploring and theorizing the role of digital communication devices (such as smartphones, tablets, PCs, apps, fitness trackers, pedometers, or “brain games”) in relation to the modern life courses. As well as we combine this theoretical approach with a practical goal of making the research insights actionable through co-design by involving older people and other stakeholders, such as policy makers, ICT researchers and developers, and interest groups in “Academic Work Places” in The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Canada.

BCONNECT@HOME will deliver a fine-grained understanding of digital use in later life, and design recommendations for digital interventions for social connectedness.

The project has the following objectives:

  • Tracing different and similar trends in how older persons use digital communication devices in their home and other locations in four countries by tracking smartphone and mobile app activity patterns of 600 individuals 55-79 years old (WP I).
  • Achieving an understanding of the interconnections between older people, places and digital communication devices, by conducting qualitative studies in homes and neighbourhoods as significant sites for the use and non-use of digital communication devices. Results will be discussed in the Academic Work Places in the other countries (WPs II & III).
  • Establishing Academic Work Places in each country, where researchers, older people, ICT designers, and other stakeholders will develop and evaluate co-design methods, informed by the empirically-grounded theoretical insights above (WP IV).
  • Advancing theorization of digital ageing and the modern life course, by pulling together the interdisciplinary insights and empirical results as specified in WPs I-IV.



Image by Wall Boat as a Public Domain work.