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Coming of (Old) Age in the Digital Age: ICT Usage and Non-Usage Among Older Adults
Sociological Research Online (2013)
  • Barbara Barbosa Neves
Most developed countries are in the midst of two significant societal trends: the first is an aging population; the second is the uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by large segments of society. But research shows a strong association between age and the so-called digital divide: older adults are less likely to use ICT when compared to other age groups. If we consider the social affordances of the Internet and the online migration of several public and private services, the lack of access or of digital literacy might be increasing age-related inequality. Consequently, we studied adoption, usage, and non-usage of ICT (mobile phones, computers, and the Internet) by Portuguese older adults. For that, we surveyed a random stratified sample of 500 individuals over 64 years of age living in Lisbon. Of this sample, 77% owned a mobile phone, 13% used computers, and 10% used the Internet. The main reasons for non-usage were functional and attitudinal, rather than physical or associated with age. But usage of mobile phones and computers was predicted by age and education, whereas the usage of the Internet was only predicted by education. We followed up the survey with 10 qualitative interviews, using a mixed methods strategy. The qualitative data showed a general positive perception of ICT as well as the importance of family and intergenerational relationships for technology adoption and use.
Publication Date
Spring May 31, 2013
Citation Information
Barbara Barbosa Neves. "Coming of (Old) Age in the Digital Age: ICT Usage and Non-Usage Among Older Adults" Sociological Research Online Vol. 18(2) Iss. 6 (2013)
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