Mapping the Two Levels of Digital Divide: Internet Access and Social Network Site Adoption among Older Adults in the USA

TitleMapping the Two Levels of Digital Divide: Internet Access and Social Network Site Adoption among Older Adults in the USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsYu, RP, Ellison, NB, McCammon, R, Langa, KM
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Volume19
Issue10
Start Page1445
Pagination1445-1464
KeywordsDemographics, Health Conditions and Status
Abstract

Older adults have increasingly adopted Internet and social network sites (SNSs), but little communication scholarship has explored systematic differences in access within this population. Using a nationally representative sample of Americans over the age of 50 years from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study, we examine Internet access (N?=?18,851) and SNS adoption patterns (N?=?869) among this sample and explore how these patterns vary by age. Regarding Internet access, results suggest that while the gender divide has reversed in favor of women, older adults who are economically, socioculturally, or physically disadvantaged are less likely to have reliable Internet access. In addition, the view that the various divides in Internet access are less of a concern for those who are younger is only partially supported, as some access-related divides do not vary by age or even decrease with age. For SNS adoption, we found that access to technological resources (diversity of online activities) positively predicts SNS use. Moreover, SNS users are more likely to be younger, female, widowed, and homemakers, perhaps because these individuals are more motivated to use SNSs to complement or compensate for their existing social status. These findings reveal unique challenges and motivations in relation to Internet access and SNS adoption patterns across the later life span.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1109695
DOI10.1080/1369118X.2015.1109695
Endnote Keywords

Social network site/Internet access/digital divide/older adults

Endnote ID

999999

Citation Key6438