Digital Arts and Older People: What is distinctive about working with older people using creative technology?

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Randall J

Year of Publication:

Baring Foundation

Publication Type:


This paper was produced as a discussion document to aid a roundtable meeting on Digital Arts and Older People that was held by the Baring Foundation on 13th September 2012. This roundtable intended to consider the question: ‘what is distinctive about working with older people using digital arts and creative technology, and how might this field be developed?’

This paper outlines some early thoughts of the author on this theme, and incorporates suggestions and elements of the discussion that followed. It begins by taking a view on what we should consider digital art and creative technology, and distinguishes between the use of technology as a tool and as a medium. The paper then goes on to outline some of the issues that digital artists work with older people to challenge and explore. It outlines three of these: the digital divide; isolation and loneliness; and the relative disengagement of older people within an increasingly important part of mainstream artistic practice.

Section 3 considers whether there are particular forms of participatory arts practice that digital technology facilitates, identifying two in particular: intergenerational projects; and memory and reminiscence work. After this, section 4 attempts to identify any particular groups that digital arts interventions could be particularly suited to. It suggests that two such groups are people living with dementia, and older people with limited physical function.

Section 5 discusses some of the perceived disadvantages and limitations of the use of digital arts with older people, including a lack of ‘immediacy’; older people’s fears around the use of technology; barriers to digital arts being used in care homes; and the relatively high resources required.

Finally, section 6 concludes, and outlines some of the areas that have emerged as priorities for overcoming the challenges identified, and increasing the digital arts offer to older people.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Non-Health Settings

Participant Group: Older Adults

Art Forms: Film / Photography / Video

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Randall, J. (2012). Digital Arts and Older People: What is distinctive about working with older people using creative technology? London: The Baring Foundation.