|Title||Internet Use and Cognitive Functioning in Later Life: Focus on Asymmetric Effects and Contextual Factors.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Kim, YK, Han, SHwang|
|Keywords||Cognition, Internet use, sociodemographic factors|
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Despite emerging literature linking Internet usage and cognitive functioning in later life, research seldom takes changes in older adults' Internet use into account. How changes in Internet use influence older adults' cognitive decline over time, particularly in the context of sociodemographic factors that shape Information and Communications Technology (ICT) use, remains an open question.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Using nine waves of panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (2002-2018), we examined within-person asymmetric effects of transitioning into and out of Internet use on cognitive functioning, and whether the associations vary across birth cohorts and by living arrangement.
RESULTS: Transitioning into Internet use (i.e., Internet use onset) was associated with improved cognitive functioning at a given wave and decelerated cognitive decline over time. Transitioning out of the Internet (i.e., Internet use cessation) was associated with worse cognitive functioning at a given wave and accelerated cognitive decline over time. Further, birth cohort and living arrangement moderated these associations. The detrimental effect of transitioning out of Internet use was worse for older adults born in 1941 or before. The cognitive benefits of transitioning into Internet use were greater for those older adults who live alone.
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: These findings highlight the interplay between technology, social environment, and cognitive functioning in later life. The salubrious effects of using the Internet, as well as the deleterious effects of ceasing to use such technology, underscores the importance of promoting digital literacy and access to ICT among the older adult population.