Older Adults’ Perceptions of ICT-based Surveillance: The AiD Cross-national Study

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Galit Nimrod, Ben Gurion University
Avi Marciano, Ben Gurion University
Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Open University of Catalonia
Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University
Vera Gallistl, Karl Landsteiner University
Loredana Ivan, National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA)
Unmil Karadkar, University of Graz
Najmeh Khalili-Mahani, Concordia University
Constance Lafontaine, Concordia University
Francis Léveillé, Concordia University
Rinat Lifshitz, Max Stern Yezreel Valley College
Catherine Middleton, Toronto Metropolitan University
Joel Peiruza Parga, Open University of Catalonia
Alexander Peine, Open University of the Netherlands
Dennis Rosenberg, The Hebrew University
Sara Suárez Gonzalo, Open University of Catalonia


Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Open University of the Netherlands
Canadian Fund for Innovation
Concordia University

Research Areas:

Do older adults feel watched, followed, or monitored when they use digital devices and apps? If they feel a certain form of surveillance, who do they think is watching them? Does this perceived surveillance cause stress or other negative effects? These are some of the main questions the Aging in Data cross-national study aims to answer. Through an online survey focusing on individual experiences, the study investigates older adults’ perception of surveillance when they use the internet. To provide precise answers to these questions, agents of surveillance are divided in different groups such as corporations, employers, or family members. The respondents are asked whether or not they feel watched by each of these groups and whether this surveillance produces positive or negative effects.

The research will further evaluate how older individuals react to the feeling of being watched on the internet. The survey includes questions on affective reactions and behavioural changes caused by surveillance. Does the feeling of being watched on the internet cause technostress, or stress produced by the use of information and communication technologies? And then, do older individuals change their behaviour as a reaction to this affective response? Do they take specific actions to protect their privacy online?

Based in six countries – Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, and Romania – the project will produce a unique comparative analysis. This major research project is one of the first quantitative studies to focus on older adults’ perception of surveillance in a cross-national context.

Data was collected in the fall of 2023, and a descriptive report was published in January 2024.