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Lifelong Spiritual Learning: Religious Older Adults Going Digital

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Authors:
Sarit Okun PhD, Department of Communication Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel, sarit.okun@post.bgu.ac.il

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Galit Nimrod PhD, Department of Communication Studies and the Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel, gnimrod@bgu.ac.il

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Abstract

This qualitative study sought to explore the role of online religious learning in alleviating distress and enhancing wellbeing in later life. Twenty-six religious Jewish individuals aged 70–96 were personally trained in their homes to use an experimental spiritual learning website. Their experiences were documented for six months via interviews, media ethnographies, and monthly follow-ups. Analysis identified the participants’ initial ambivalent attitudes towards online religious learning, which extended the discussion of cultural barriers to the integration of digital technologies for religious observance and the maintenance of communal boundaries. However, this research group’s experience highlighted the intellectual, social, and emotional benefits garnered by participation in online religious learning in later life. The findings indicate that this informal educational channel may supplement religious praxis and fill the lives of older religious adults with positive rewards and, thereby, improve their psychological and social wellbeing.

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