Skip to main content

Older adults' use of information and communications technology in everyday life


Social commentators in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States are beginning to recognise that encouraging older adults' use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is essential for the creation of bona fide information societies. To date, however, few studies have examined in detail older adults' access to and use of ICTs. This important aspect of the interaction between population ageing and societal change is more complex than the published literature's portrayal of a dichotomy between ‘successful users’ and ‘unsuccessful non-users’. The paper examines the extent and nature of ICT access and use by older adults in their everyday lives. Information was collected from a sub-sample of 352 adults aged 60 or more years taken from a large household survey of ICT use in England and Wales among 1,001 people. The findings suggest that using a computer is not only a minority activity amongst older adults but also highly stratified by gender, age, marital status and educational background. Conversely, non-use of computers can be attributed to their low relevance and ‘relative advantage’ to older people. The paper concludes by considering how political and academic assumptions about older people and ICTs might be refocused, away from trying to ‘change’ older adults, and towards involving them in changing ICT.

Corresponding author
Neil Selwyn, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3WT, UK. Email:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed