Dividing the Grey Divide: How Older Adults’ Online Attitudes, Skills, and Activities Vary

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:45
Oral Presentation
Anabel QUAN-HAASE, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Barry WELLMAN, NetLab Network, Canada
Research has repeatedly demonstrated a “grey divide’ of older adults less involved with digital media. Yet such research has tended to overlook differences in older adults’ digital media use and treated them as a homogenous group. Based on 42 in-depth interviews with older adults (65+) in East York, Toronto, we develop a user typology that moves beyond seeing older adults as non-users and includes tech mid-rangers, middle of the road users, intermediate go-getters, and cultivated users. These older adults feel relatively deprived when they compare their digital skills to peers, family, and mass media accounts of hot new apps. For some, their narrative of low mastery comes from the perceived time needed for learning, the difficulty of learning, and the feeling of lagging behind younger generations. We relate the policy implications of our findings to the potential that learning about digital media has for older adults.