Some older adults may be missing out on the health and wellness benefits that can result from internet use, according to the results of a newly published study, who noted a “digital divide.”
Researchers analyzed data from 107,500 older adults who participated in the California Health Interview Survey and found that internet use among those aged 60 or more years increased from 60.2% to 66.4% from 2011 to 2016.
“When it comes to specific sociodemographic subgroups,” however, they said, “the significant increases in internet use between 2011 and 2016 were observed among those who were young-old [60 to 74], old-old [75 to 84], female, and non-Hispanic Whites, and those with high school graduation or above.”
That is, statistically significant increases were not seen among the “oldest-old” (aged 85 or more years), men, those who had not graduated from high school, and racial/ethnic groups other than white.
Findings, published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, are important, according to the authors, “given the importance of the internet as a means of sharing information, and given older adults’ greater need for health information.”
“Studies report that older individuals who use the internet to seek health-related information experienced improved outcomes with respect to their knowledge of health issues, health communication with medical professionals, and appropriate use of health services,” they said. “In addition, numerous studies report other benefits for older adults of using the internet such as improving interpersonal interactions, promoting better cognitive functioning, and enhancing their experience of control and independence.”