Study suggests that social engagement technology has the potential to broaden older adults' social networks
- Wendy Rogers
- Raksha Mudar
- College of Applied Health Sciences
- Kinesiology and Community Health
- University of Illinois
OneClick.chat, a video chat platform, announced positive outcomes in the study of older adults, with and without mild cognitive impairment (MCI), who used their video chat technology to engage in social activities to meet new people of all ages with shared interests. Some of the participants' favorite topics of conversation were books, health, family, and exercise. The results of this study were published in Gerontechnology, the official journal of the International Society for Gerontechnology.
OneClick.chat, a web-based video chat platform that provides users with easy, accessible ways to connect with others, partnered with Drs. Wendy Rogers and Raksha Mudar in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to conduct a three-phased study to examine experiences, attitudes, and preferences of video chat systems, particularly the OneClick video chat platform, among older adults with and without MCI. It also evaluated and optimized the OneClick.chat platform to accommodate the interests, abilities, and usability concerns of older adults. These objectives were accomplished in three phases:
- Phase 1 examined older adults' experiences with well-known video chat systems (e.g. Skype, Facetime), their attitudes toward video chat in general, and to OneClick.chat specifically, and their preferences on how they would like to use OneClick.chat.
- Phase 2 worked to identify potential usability problems with the OneClick.chat platform through experiential evaluations conducted by experts with knowledge of human factors, aging, and MCI. The OneClick.chat platform was then optimized based on Phase 1 and Phase 2 findings.
- Phase 3 participants interacted with the optimized OneClick.chat platform over a period of four weeks in their own homes. They gave feedback on their attitudes toward the improved system and their opinions about using the system for real conversations.
The study provided valuable and novel insights from participants about their experiences and preferences for using video chat systems, as well as understanding their perceived ease of use and technology acceptance. Overall, participants found the OneClick.chat platform useful and easy to use. This process also showcased how technology for older adults can be developed by engaging them in the iterative design process. Importantly, this study will provide insights, not only for the design of OneClick.chat, but more generally for the design of technology-based social engagement platforms for older adults with and without MCI.
"Older adults are at increased risk of social isolation and loneliness due to significant life changes, including retirement, restricted mobility – and now with the global pandemic putting older adults in isolation—we fear this will only further exacerbate the development of chronic health conditions," said Dillon Myers, CEO of OneClick.chat. "The results of this study help us understand from research leaders in aging and technology, how to develop the best video chat and social engagement platform for older adults. Soon we will launch version 2.0 of our platform, which will include significant enhancement upgrades as a result of this study."
OneClick.chat will launch version 2.0 next month which will include a new video chat interface designed to maximize usability for older adults, enhanced security and data privacy features, as well as curated classes and social events for residents of senior living organizations. The Company plans to build on this research through Phase II grant funding from The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). OneClick.chat will partner with home and community-based organizations (CBOs) to utilize the platform in their community outreach and demonstrate improved quality of life for older adults through social activities that use technology.
OneClick.chat will continue its study in partnership with Dr. Wendy Rogers, Director of the Human Factors and Aging Laboratory and Dr. Raksha Mudar, Director of the Aging and Neurocognition Laboratory.
"It's critical that companies, like OneClick.chat, focus on the socialization needs of one of our most vulnerable populations," Dr. Rogers said. "Many older adults are already at high risk of social isolation and the global pandemic continues to have a major impact on their ability to interact with family and friends or develop new social connections."