How Ageism Contributes to the Second-Level Digital Divide: The Case of Canadian Seniors

By Martine Lagacé, Houssein Charmarkeh, Joelle Laplante and Annick Tanguay.

Published by Journal of Technologies and Human Usability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: November 10, 2015 $US5.00

Although more and more seniors have access to information and communication technologies (ICT), there still persists a discrepancy between young and old in terms of ICT usage competency, which has been conceptualized as the second-level digital divide. Previous studies have shown that low levels of ICT usage competency can decrease social capital and intensify feelings of loneliness. However, few studies have examined the role of ageism as a factor that may contribute to such second-level digital divide. Hence, the goal of this study is twofold: a) determine the extent to which seniors’ endorsement of ageist stereotypes can decrease ICT usage competency; and b) in turn, assess the extent to which ICT usage competency leads to an increase in social capital as well as lowered feelings of social and emotional loneliness. To do so, a total of 172 Canadian seniors were invited to complete a questionnaire measuring the concepts under study. Results of a path analysis revealed that the integration of ageist stereotypes by seniors negatively impacts ICT usage competency; moreover, the latter variable is positively linked with social capital; however, contrary to our hypothesis, ICT usage competency increases emotional loneliness and does not directly impact social loneliness. Finally, results reveal that social capital decreases feelings of emotional and social loneliness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, notably in regards to the pervasiveness and the impact of ageism on seniors. To do so, a total of 172 Canadian seniors were invited to complete a questionnaire measuring the concepts under study. Results of a path analysis revealed that the integration of ageist stereotypes by seniors negatively impacts ICT usage competency; moreover, the latter variable is positively linked with social capital; however, contrary to our hypothesis, ICT usage competency increases emotional loneliness and does not directly impact social loneliness. Finally, results reveal that social capital decreases feelings of emotional and social loneliness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, notably in regards to the pervasiveness and the impact of ageism on seniors.

Keywords: Ageism, ICT Usage Competency, Social Capital, Emotional Loneliness, Social Loneliness, Path Analysis

Journal of Technologies and Human Usability, Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: November 10, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 489.502KB)).

Dr. Martine Lagacé

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Houssein Charmarkeh

Part-time professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Joelle Laplante

Adjunct Professor, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Annick Tanguay

Doctoral Candidate, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada