• Journal Article

The implications of information and communication technology use for the social well-being of older adults

Citation

Ihm, J., & Hsieh, Y. (2015). The implications of information and communication technology use for the social well-being of older adults. Information Communication & Society, 18(10), 1123-1138. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2015.1019912

Abstract

Older adults, comprising a population segment more vulnerable to social isolation during the late life stages, are more likely to be excluded from the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as well as from the focus of ICT research. Addressing this research gap concerning the currently fastest growing sector of ICT users this study centers on the disparities regarding older adults' ICT access and use. Because the effects of ICTs cannot be uniform for all users, the digital inequalities older adults experience might have different influences on their social lives when compared to other populations that have been studied in the previous literature. Drawing on surveys from 1780 older adults, ages 60 years and older, residing in six suburbs in the Chicago area, this research links older adults' digital inequalities to their social well-being. We demonstrate that while socio-economic status remains the major factor affecting their quality of life, social and instrumental ICT uses can also contribute to their well-being in varied and unexpected ways. From these results, we draw implications for the study of digital disparities by examining how the impacts of ICTs vary by differential uses and different age groups