Did you know that feeling lonely can be as bad for health as 15 cigarettes a day? Loneliness and social isolation are pressing public health issues across the globe. Older people living alone can be particularly at risk. We study how new communication technologies, especially AI-powered voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, may help reduce loneliness among older adults. This project extends research I did in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar in the spring and explores how older adults use voice assistants to create social connections with people, interests, and activities they care about. This research will culminate in a guide to facilitating face-to-face and virtual social connection(s) through voice assistants, which may be used in both the US and Australia, as well as a manuscript for conference submission and/or publication. It will also inform specialized software designed to activate social connection and increase quality of life among older adults. This is one of multiple research projects I lead or co-lead investigating the growing field of aged care tech and how communication technologies can influence loneliness.
|Advisor Name:||Valerie Jones|
|Advisor College:||Journalism and Mass Communication|
|Advisor Department:||Journalism and Mass Communications|
|Potential Student Tasks:||
Responsibilities include reading and learning about loneliness and social connection, listening to interviews with study participants, transcribing them, communicating with participants and scheduling interviews, and learning to organize, clean and analyze data. May also include design of social connection guide or other relevant materials.
Tasks and learning may differ depending on the applicant’s previous experience and interest areas.
|Student Qualifications:||Curiosity about and passion for how new communication technologies can help us connect and live better, richer, fuller lives. An interest in helping older adults use technology and in learning from rich experiences of older adults around the world. Excellent communication skills, empathy, commitment to great work, and attention to detail. This is interdisciplinary work; students from any major are welcome to apply (but may be of special interest to students in Journalism and Mass Communications, health-related fields, and communications, technology, and media-related fields).|
|Training, Mentoring, and Workplace Community:||Students can work remotely or at study spaces in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. This opportunity is designed for working directly with me, the professor; collaborating closely; and potentially building a relationship that extends to future projects as well. We’ll meet weekly or bi-weekly, in person or virtually, for guidance, training, and progress check-ins. I want you to grow and learn and support that by being communicative, collaborative, and eager for your feedback, questions, and ideas.|