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Multidimensional digital inequalities: theoretical framework, empirical investigation, and policy implications of digital inequalities among older adults


Friemel, Thomas N; Frey, Tobias; Seifert, Alexander (2021). Multidimensional digital inequalities: theoretical framework, empirical investigation, and policy implications of digital inequalities among older adults. Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society, 1(1):1-24.

Abstract

Older adults represent the fastest-growing age group in the global north and are among the most affected by digital inequality. This study investigates the most important factors related with Internet use among older adults in Switzerland. Hereby, the individual context (i.e., gender, age, education, income, preretirement PC use) is found to be responsible for Internet access and frequency of use, while the support by an individual’s social context is related with inequalities regarding skills, diversity of use, and beneficial outcomes. Our theoretical framework suggests a systematic typology of four distinct relationships between dimensions of inequality. Empirical evidence for maintaining (e.g., income), reinforcing (e.g., age), mitigating (e.g., gender), and modifying relationships (e.g., encouragement by friends and family) support this framework and implications for future research and policy interventions are discussed. It becomes evident that the relationships between the dimensions are crucial for any setting in which digital inequalities are found on multiple dimensions. Given the steady innovation of new technologies and online services, the relevance of a multidimensional perspective is likely to increase.

Abstract

Older adults represent the fastest-growing age group in the global north and are among the most affected by digital inequality. This study investigates the most important factors related with Internet use among older adults in Switzerland. Hereby, the individual context (i.e., gender, age, education, income, preretirement PC use) is found to be responsible for Internet access and frequency of use, while the support by an individual’s social context is related with inequalities regarding skills, diversity of use, and beneficial outcomes. Our theoretical framework suggests a systematic typology of four distinct relationships between dimensions of inequality. Empirical evidence for maintaining (e.g., income), reinforcing (e.g., age), mitigating (e.g., gender), and modifying relationships (e.g., encouragement by friends and family) support this framework and implications for future research and policy interventions are discussed. It becomes evident that the relationships between the dimensions are crucial for any setting in which digital inequalities are found on multiple dimensions. Given the steady innovation of new technologies and online services, the relevance of a multidimensional perspective is likely to increase.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:digital inequality, digital divide, older adults, internet use, social support
Language:English
Date:11 November 2021
Deposited On:20 Dec 2021 12:23
Last Modified:13 Mar 2024 15:18
Publisher:Weizenbaum-Institut
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.34669/wi.wjds/1.1.3
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)