Older adults' online activities and cognition: Investigating the psychological mechanisms and age and gender differences.

TitleOlder adults' online activities and cognition: Investigating the psychological mechanisms and age and gender differences.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsWang, K, Chen, XSummer, Kang, S-Y, Smith, BD, Gu, D
JournalSocial Science & Medicine (1982)
Volume352
Pagination116988
ISSN Number1873-5347
Keywordsage difference, Depressive symptoms, Gender stereotype, Internet use, Loneliness, perceived control
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate psychological mechanisms underlying the association between older adults' Internet use and cognition and examine potential age and gender group differences.

METHODS: 2064 older participants were extracted from the Waves 2012, 2013, and 2016 Health and Retirement Study. Internet use was measured by two sets of variables: Internet access and different types of online activities (i.e., informational use, social use, online shopping, and online banking). Path analyses were applied to test the proposed mechanisms via three mediators (i.e., loneliness, depressive symptoms, and perceived control). Multi-group analyses were conducted to examine the potential group differences.

RESULTS: Internet use was positively associated with cognition. Despite the large direct effect, small but significant indirect effects via depressive symptoms and perceived control were identified across all online activities. Multi-group analyses revealed age-group differences in the mechanisms: depressive symptoms mediated the effects of all online activities on cognition among young-old adults, while perceived control mediated all the effects among old-old adults. Gender group differences were also identified: depressive symptoms mediated the effects of all online activities on cognition among older women and most online activities among older men, whereas perceived control mediated the associations between informational and instrumental (i.e., online shopping and banking) use and cognition among older men.

DISCUSSION: This study highlights the mediating effect of depressive symptoms and perceived control and age and gender differences regarding the Internet use-cognition association. Internet-based cognitive interventions should consider these psychological mediators and age and gender differences for the best results.

DOI10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.116988
Citation Key13985
PubMed ID38820692