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Older adults, Computers, Internet, Qualitative research, Seniors





Using computers and the Internet to alleviate or reduce loneliness and social isolation and using online methods of data collection in the forms of online surveys and chat room interviews are in their infancy and require a descriptive qualitative study of the experiences of older adults who are online. The purpose of this pilot study was twofold: (1) to describe the experiences of completing an online questionnaire and participating in an online interview and (2) to determine if the methodology of collecting interview data in a chat room setting can yield thick rich qualitative data to support future qualitative investigations into the Internet's potential use as a deterrent to social and emotional isolation.


This study used a Web page questionnaire and chat room interviews with online participants aged 65 years and older living alone. Seven of the 10 participants used the computer to combat loneliness. The participants found the questionnaire easy to locate, answer, and submit. They enjoyed the chat and believed that future interviews could be conducted on the Internet. The participants successfully completed the online questionnaire and chat room interviews with minimal difficulties attributed to a conflict with their Internet service provider. Themes evolving from the interviews were: computer life, online life, living alone, and living life.