The importance of media portrayals on perceptions and constructions of reality, including our views of old age, has been underlined by popular media theories such as the cultivation theory. The media portrayal of older persons is particularly significant as it may influence the self-perceptions of older people as well as impact the perception of the younger generations regarding older people, and expectations regarding their own old age. However, although the representation of older people in advertising, magazines and television is well-documented, their portrayal on social media remains relatively unexplored, particularly in the Indian context. With a view to fill this gap we analyzed 65 YouTube videos to understand the portrayal of older Indians on this social media platform which has the second largest user base in India, next only to WhatsApp. The results of our inductive content analysis generated six categories – A vulnerable population, A collective responsibility, The Incredibles: stories of resilience and new beginnings, Towards an elder-sensitive society, Healthy aging, and Productivity in old age: respect and economic compulsion. Among these, four were positive and two were negative categories. Although we observed a relatively positive portrayal of older people on YouTube, negative stereotypes of older people were also present. Moreover, we noted the potential for a greater and more heterogenous portrayal of older Indians given that older speaking characters appeared in only 47.69% of the videos and photos/clips of older people were observed in 75.38% of the videos.
Shilpa Bandyopadhyay, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India
Kamlesh Singh, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India