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Social, economic and health impacts of WaveLength's work with loneliness and isolation

Author(s)

IRVINE Annie

Publisher(s):

University of York. Social Policy Research Unit

Publication year:

2015

The findings of a small qualitative research to understand the ways media technology such as radio, TV and tablet computers can contribute to reducing loneliness and social isolation among vulnerable groups. Specifically, the research aimed to understand what differences the technologies provided by the charity WaveLength make in different areas of people’s lives, including emotional, social, economic and health. The study carried out interviews with 11 organisations and 14 individual beneficiaries who had received equipment from WaveLength. A further 16 people took part in face-to-face group discussions with 16 participants. The positive impacts of media technology described by participants fell into three broad categories: alleviating the subjective experience of loneliness and associated negative emotions; reducing social isolation by bringing people into ‘real world’ contact with others; and a broad range of other benefits in areas including: information and interest emotional wellbeing and mental health; physical health; and economic and educational impacts. The findings show that media technology could have positive impacts both in alleviating the negative subjective experience of loneliness at times when people were physically alone and also in reducing more objective social isolation by bringing individuals into greater contact with others. (Edited publisher abstract)


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