Language selection


Involving seniors in developing privacy best practices: Towards the development of social support technologies for seniors


Ontario Tech University (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)



Project Leader(s)

Andrea Slane, Isabel Pedersen and Patrick C. K. Hung


Companies that develop digital networked devices and applications are increasingly marketing them as providing social support for seniors and their caregivers, in order to prolong a seniors’ ability to live independently (“aging in place”).

This project collected seniors’ perspectives on these current and emerging technological devices and applications, in both their present and future forms. To this end, focus group discussions prompted seniors to share their experiences and express their views on how and why they or other seniors are using, would or would not use, or might consider using specific technologies for social support functions. The researchers focused especially on personal data protection, and sought to illuminate how seniors currently employ strategies to protect their personal information, and what knowledge, tools, and support they would need in order to consider expanding their current practices to new functions or devices.

The project consisted of three components: 1) focus groups with seniors (three in Ontario, one is Quebec, and two in British Columbia); 2) analysis of marketing materials for currently available social robots marketed for home use by seniors; and 3) workshops where seniors participated in activities which asked them to reflect on their level of comfort with data protection practices and tolerance of privacy risk for a range of possible applications for social support provided by current devices (e.g. digital assistants) and future devices (personal robots). The findings from the focus groups and workshops informed the development of Good Privacy Practices for Developing Social Support Technology for Seniors.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s):


The following project deliverables are available at Decimal Lab:

OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Andrea Slane
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities
Ontario Tech University
2000 Simcoe Street N
Oshawa, ON L1G 0C5

905-721-8668 ext. 2844

Date modified: