A Curtin University study has revealed that people aged over 60 who use the internet are better adjusted than older people who do not.
Educational psychologist Genevieve Johnson, of Curtin’s School of Education, conducted the research that studied the responses of 122 Canadians aged 60 and over.
Dr Johnson’s survey addressed the relationship between internet use and psychological health, in particular the issues of loneliness, competence, social support and depression.
“As the world moves towards more online communication, we wanted to examine the relationship between psychological wellness and internet use among older adults and look at patterns between demographics such as age and income and internet use in late adulthood,” she said.
“The research showed that older adults who use the internet participated in many of the same activities online as younger adults, but to a lesser extent.
“In particular we looked at three clusters of characteristics – frequency of online use, wellbeing and participant demographics.
“The report showed that there was a link between internet use and personal evaluation of competence.”
Dr Johnson also said a strong sense of personal abilities could be a factor in the older adults’ willingness to try new technologies in the first place.
The study also showed there was now a much higher rate of internet use among older adults compared to other reports from the past decade.
“Fifty-seven per cent of the sample group reported to use the internet every day and 12 per cent used the internet weekly,” she said.
“Only one person in four aged 60 or over reported never using the internet.
“This is in stark contrast to similar studies from 2004 which state that only around 38 per cent of adults over the age of 65 go online.
“As the baby boomers start to enter this age bracket, we are seeing a much higher uptake of internet use than those born before this cohort.”
PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM PROCTOR