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Emerging digital inequalities: A comparative study of older adults’ smartphone use

Beneito-Montagut, Roser ORCID:, Rosales, Andrea and Fernández-Ardèvol, Mireia 2022. Emerging digital inequalities: A comparative study of older adults’ smartphone use. SAGE Open: Social Media + Society 8 (4) , pp. 1-12. 10.1177/20563051221138756

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Older adults are increasingly using smartphones. Researchers have identified demographic, attitudinal factors and social outcomes related to inequalities in access, skills, and activities of internet use. While this research has been ongoing for years, studies about the digital inequalities related to the use of smartphones by older adults are still scarce and they rarely have undertaken socio-cultural comparisons of usage. This paper builds on an analysis of tracking data of older adults’ (55-79) smartphone use to explore digital inequalities around traditional axes of inequality and socio-cultural factors that shape older adults’ smartphone use. It adds a comparative perspective for understanding emerging inequalities related to socio-cultural contexts to existing literature. The results show that differences cannot be explained solely by socio-demographic factors but also possibly by national policies and culture. Particularly, age, on its own, is not able to explain the differences reported. Older adults engage in a range of different activities on their smartphones and differences between groups across the traditional axes of inequalities do not mirror exactly the differences found in previous research on internet use. This is important considering the risk of emerging new inequalities and the ongoing revisiting of policies to mitigate them.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 2056-3051
Funders: More Years Better Lives
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 17 October 2022
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2022 11:59

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