The restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic pose significant risks to the human rights of older people from limitations in how people are able to engage with their social lives and from increased risk of discrimination linked to conceptualization of COVID-19 as a disease of the old. Further, COVID-19 increases risks of social isolation through public health and societal responses such as lockdowns. These responses have resulted in significant shifts in how citizens and service providers think about technology as a tool to allow people to stay socially connected. However, there are risks to the rights of older people inherent in the use of technology related to their ability to access technology and ageist assumptions that may limit engagement. The ‘Technology and Social Connectedness’ project was a pre-pandemic mixed-methods study involving evidence review, secondary analyses, and qualitative methods. Cross-dataset analyses led to evidence-based guidance to inform a rights-based approach to using technology. This paper provides analysis from the project that foregrounds a rights-based approach demonstrating how we developed the guidance within this framework and, contextualized within the pandemic response in Scotland, how that guidance can help others to protect and uphold the human rights of older people.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

McCabe, L., Dawson, A., Douglas, E. & Barry, N. 2021, 'Using Technology the Right Way to Support Social Connectedness for Older People in the Era of COVID-19', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(16), article no: 8725. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168725

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 16 June 2022
Was this page helpful?