Television Use and Consumption of Elderly Americans

Television Use and Consumption of Elderly Americans

Robert Andrew Dunn, Stephen W. Marshall
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch074
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The present research offers a state-of-the-art review on the elderly and their consumption of television, including new advancements in the media, potential motivations, and resulting effects. As the elderly watch more television than any other demographic, it is imperative that the research community is familiar with the nature of that relationship. The authors first discuss the nature of television viewing in today's modern digital landscape. This overview is followed by an assessment of current television consumption by the elderly, with particular attention given to TV news, a popular genre for the elderly, and assessments of TV quality by senior citizens. Finally, the researchers discuss the effects of television on older audiences, including physical, emotional, and mental health.
Chapter Preview


The focus of this encyclopedia entry is to understand the impact of television consumption on the elderly population. With the advent of digital technologies impacting and transforming how we consumer media it becomes imperative to clearly define the two main concepts of this chapter. For the purposes of this study, the following terms are defined as indicated:

Elderly population: The term “elderly” can have different meanings depending on the source (Weeks, 2013) with the origination of the word coming from the word “elder” and generally means old (Online Etymology Dictionary, n.d.). The United States Social Security office considers people over the age of 66 eligible for full retirement with full benefits (Borland, 2017). However, most of the research presented here focused on this population seems to reference people over the age of 60 (e.g. Fouts, 1989 or Eggermont & Vandebosch, 2001) as being part of the “aging” population. This population is of particular importance because it is an under-researched growing population. The U.S. Census Bureau as cited in the Population Reference Bureau (2015) projects the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double to 95 million by 2060 - sharing nearly a quarter of the population (Mather, Scommegna, & Kilduff, 2015).

Television Consumption: With nearly 80% of Americans watching some form of television on a daily basis and it is considered “America’s favorite pastime.” For the purpose of this study, the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines “watching TV” as the definition of television consumption, “As defined in the ATUS, “watching TV” refers to any time people said their main activity involved watching TV, videos, or movies. This includes the time they spent watching live programming, viewing DVDs, and streaming shows on their TV sets, computers, and portable devices. It does not include time spent viewing movies at a theater” (Krantz-Kent, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dementia: A general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.

Streaming: The digitization of content delivered via internet. Often also referenced as streaming TV, online TV, or internet TV. Examples of this include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc.

OTT: Over the top television is any television content delivered via an internet connection. Examples of OTT provides are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc.

Television Consumption: Any time spent watching live or recorded television, viewing DVDs, and streaming shows on their TV sets, computers, and portable devices.

Elderly: People over the age of 60 years old.

Penetration: Percentage or share of an adopted technology.

Sedentary Behavior (SB): Behaving in a manner that is not physically active, such as sitting and watching television and not standing or moving one’s body.

Cord-Cutting: The act of canceling a subscription to cable or satellite to consume television content via online content providers such as Netflix, Hulu, or others.

Online Content Providers: Text, video, and audio delivered via the internet.

Second-Screen Experience: The use of a screened device, such as a smartphone or tablet, while watching another screen, such as a TV or a computer, to enrich the viewing of a program.

DVR Technology: Digital video recorder is an electronic device that is used to record and play back video content. Many cable and satellite services provide DVR technology as part of the consumer package.

Time-Shifting: Recording a program to a storage medium to be consumed at a later date.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: