Laura Haapio-Kirk

Laura  Haapio-Kirk

I am a PhD researcher at UCL Anthropology studying smartphones and ageing in Japan, and a Leach fellow in public anthropology at the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Location London


  • Very interesting how this mindfulness app was common among the people you spoke with. Mindfulness was already very popular in the UK, but during the pandemic I have noticed it has been recommended even more widely to combat anxiety and stress. It's heartening to know that the same device that people often blame for being distracting and consuming attention can...

  • Thank you for your very succinct description of 'smart from below'! Glad to know you have found the concept interesting and convincing.

  • great! glad to know it was helpful for you :)

  • Really glad you have enjoyed the course Anne! And interesting that it is making you consider getting a smartphone. Hopefully the costs will continue to decrease around the world so that everyone who wants one will be able to access a smartphone.

  • thank you for taking part!

  • thank you so much for joining, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Thanks for your comment Peter. I found the use of emoji and stickers (large format emoji) very interesting during my research in Japan! Sending visual messages was quite distinctive of the way that older people used their phones. Often people said that they used emoji to make communication warmer, and more multi-layered like face-to-face contact. Often they...

  • Very interesting how you combine all your tracking in one big spreadsheet, including writing productivity! Maybe I need to give this a try :) I wonder if there is any correlation between physical activity and productivity...

  • Anyone is welcome to join the departmental seminars which happen regularly in term time. They are free, and at least during the pandemic, are all streamed online.

  • Interesting to hear of the distinction in the definition of 'health anthropology' in Brazil - that sounds more inclusive.

  • Thanks for your comment Michael, and for sharing the ways in which the pandemic has influenced your usage of digital devices for health. It will be very interesting to study the long-term impact of the pandemic on technology use.

  • @WinnetDyke You can read the book for free here: but of course if you use a kindle then do go ahead with the Amazon link. Thanks for reading!

  • Very interesting comment about 'old' as referring to people who you don't know. It could be that the term 'old' is perhaps inherently othering in its generally negative inflections, therefore only applicable to 'others'.

  • This is a very good point - the pandemic has put a huge emphasis on chronological age categories, despite the fact that people vary greatly within age groups in terms of fitness.

  • Thanks for your comment Michael! Wonderful you did the Kumano Kodo. I visited Koyasan and stayed in a temple there. Was a wonderful experience, but I am sure much more rewarding as an actual pilgrim! Your point about being open to learning and new ideas as central to 'staying young at heart' was key for many of the people I researched with in Japan. I remember...

  • yes exactly this - in my fieldsite in Japan it was not rare for women to be staring families in their forties. Key moments of the life course for both younger and older people are shifting, along with life expectancy itself, therefore assumptions about what terms like 'middle-aged' mean are also changing.

  • You're right, it's pretty funny! In Japan people would often keep their old feature phones to make phone calls because it was cheaper than using their smartphones which they kept for using the internet and messaging. It's really interesting to see the different reasons people have for avoiding using the 'phone' in their smartphone!

  • Thank you so much for downloading our book, and happy you can access it on your Kindle through Amazon even if that does mean paying for it!

  • That's a really interesting parallel, thanks for your comment!

  • Really great to hear, thanks Steve!

  • Hi Vinaya, great to have you on the course., I am really interested to hear more about your research on older people during the pandemic. I'm very glad that you're interested in the Japanese fieldsite which is where I worked. In Japan there is also a mixed reaction to smartphones as they are gradually adopted by older people. I found that during the pandemic...

  • This is really fascinating Ying-Tzu! Paying attention to the words that people use in the discourse surrounding both the pandemic and technology use can be helpful to understand how wider cultural contexts shape the way we think about things. In my fieldsite of Japan, during coronavirus the emphasis has been on 'self-restraint', highlighting the importance...

  • Hi Martin, so glad to have you on the course! I am really fascinated to hear more about your experience in encouraging technology use among older people in the early days of the internet. I hope you enjoy the course.

  • Hi Fajana, it will be really interesting to hear your perspective as this is a very important area not only for older technology users but for everyone.

  • Laura Haapio-Kirk replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    The smartphone has certainly come into its own during lockdown, Winnet! And Noreen, it will be interesting to hear your perspective as a non-smartphone user. As for the sellotape, my iPhone currently has some on the screen over a crack in the glass... I guess simple fixes like sellotape never get old despite the changing technology!

  • @flyingpigtravelingbugC Great to have you here! Will be interesting to see if your experience in China matches with what our researchers found.

  • Yes anthropologists study just about everything to do with humans!

  • Thanks Margaret, it will be really interesting to hear your opinion as the course progresses as someone with an 'outsider' perspective.

  • Thank you for sharing this fable with us Huixiu, how interesting! And I wholeheartedly agree, although unfortunately it seems rare that disciplines communicate well with each other.

  • Interesting point about generational use of social media relating to confidence with a platform and the presence, or not, of community. I would agree, except that certain platforms such as twitter are perhaps places where you don't necessarily need to already be part of a community in order to interact. Communities temporarily coalesce around hashtags and...

  • Welcome Jonathan! You might be particularly interested in Week 4 which looks at social media and education. Looking forward to hearing your perspective on this topic.

  • It perhaps could also be that Chinese social media remains an enigma to non-Chinese speaking populations, simply due to the language barrier.

  • Thanks Hilary - great point! For some people, the ideal is to not 'only' be a mother but also their daughter's best friend. Danny wrote about the consequences of social media for shifting relational terms in this recent article:

  • Thanks for the great comment Michele! I think that the researchers would agree that social media is not new - the technology has just changed, and will keep evolving. Perhaps the distinguishing feature of social media today is that an individual can now broadcast to as large (or small) a group as they want. Whereas before the ability to broadcast information...

  • Thanks for the question Dana - for some fieldsites the researchers used pseudonyms as a way to protect the anonymity of their informants.

  • Great point Melanie. Later on in the course you'll certainly come across this. For example in the Chile fieldsite we found that people used Instagram during the aftermath of an earthquake to draw attention to a lack of care from the government experienced by this particular region. However the situation in places where state censorship operates, such as China,...

  • Welcome Anna! It will be interesting to see if your distinction between the 'virtual' and the 'real' softens during the course. Great reason to want to learn more about the topic, hope you enjoy!

  • this is really inspiring, and your English is excellent. I admire your motivation to learn!

  • behaviour change, personalised, networked

  • I work in the department of Anthropology at UCL and I'm developing a project on ageing and mHealth. I'm keen to learn about processes of participatory design, and to see how cultural contextual knowledge (such as provided by anthropologists) can help the design process.

  • It's a beautiful video - you can see more of her paintings here:

  • Well said!

  • Thanks for your comment Georgia. You're right that privacy is a concern for a lot of people, especially in West. However as you'll see in our industrial Chinese fieldsite, where people were living in very close proximity to each other, social media creates a space where people can experience 'privacy' for the first time.