An Examination of Patterns and Facilitators of Internet Use Among Older Americans


It is widely known that older adults are less likely to use information and communication technologies including the internet than younger people. However, knowledge around the digital divide has been focused on explaining the phenomenon rather than offering practical suggestions to reduce the internet utilization gap between generations. In response, the current study contributes to an in-depth understanding of older adults’ internet use based on findings from an online/offline cross-sectional survey. The survey responses have been collected by 216 participants aged 65 or older in the US since February 2021. A descriptive analysis of the responses revealed specific patterns of internet use among the participants. When asked about the main purposes of internet use, the three most prevalent responses were information search, communication, and entertainment resources. In contrast, the three least prevalent responses were helping others, meeting new people, and engagement in advocacy activities. As for the digital competence expressed by a 5-point Likert scale, the three most competent activities among the participants were online shopping, information search, and writing emails. Creating contents such as Youtube clips, booking (e.g., seats for concert or flight), and making video calls were reported as the three least competent activities. In addition, a multiple linear regression showed that older adults’ internet use was associated with higher social connection, more human resources to teach digital skills, and poorer age-friendly environment for internet use. The findings indicate that older adults need enhanced support and public resources for internet use, especially for performing more sophisticated activities.

Author Information
Cherrie Park, The Ohio State University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: AGen2022
Stream: Aging and Gerontology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon