The Internet Behavior of Older Adults

The Internet Behavior of Older Adults

Elizabeth Mazur (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Margaret L. Signorella (Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Michelle Hough (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch609
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Abstract

Older adults are increasingly joining younger ones in using the Internet, including social media, although use decreases with age, especially after age 74. Most older adults who become first-time Internet users are enthusiastic users, frequently going online. Barriers to their use of the Internet remain, such as physical and cognitive limitations. Attitudinal barriers may exist, but it is unclear whether these result from lack of experience or aging. Marketing research has found that older persons are less likely to engage in on-line purchasing. Research still has not clarified whether the ongoing pace of change in technology, along with changes associated with aging, may mean that there will always be fewer older than younger adults using the newest technologies. However, as current Internet users age into the senior population, they are likely to maintain positive attitudes towards technology and continue frequent use, which the research suggests may benefit mental health and social relationships.
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Older Adults As Active Internet Users

Fortunately, a growing body of theoretically informed, empirically based literature, still mostly focused on electronic mail, began appearing in the 1990s. Beyond their specialized foci, research in this area underscored that the elderly are active users of technology, more capable of understanding and enjoying the Internet than was originally assumed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Telehealth: The use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long distance clinical health care and health education.

Marketing: Techniques used to encourage consumers to make purchases.

Accessibility: The goal of making any place or process usable by individuals with disabilities or challenges; in this context, making the Internet and computer technology usable for older adults with physical or cognitive limitations.

Gray gap: Refers to data that indicates that older adults are less likely than those under 55 to be online.

Silver Tsunami: Phrase referring to the large number of rising seniors in many world economies.

Psychological Well-Being: Usually operationalized in terms of mood or interpersonal functioning; lower wellness would be reflected in indicators such as depression, loneliness, or social isolation.

Brain Games: Video games, usually online, hypothesized to keep brain functioning at levels of younger individuals.

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