Motivation Counts: Benefits to Older Adults from Tech Use Depends on Why They Use It

Many potential benefits of information and communication technology (cell phones, social media, fitness trackers, etc.) have been suggested for older adults, but not much is known about how older adults’ motivations for using this technology may affect their well-being. A recent study aimed to find whether there were associations between the motivations of those age 80 and better for using such technology and the potential benefits that technology could provide.

This study surveyed 445 adults over 80 on their technology use and their motivations for using it, as well as on their psychological and physical well-being. Overall, for this group, when not taking motivation into account, greater device or application use was associated with higher life satisfaction, lower loneliness, higher goal attainment, better health, and fewer functional limitations.

Two motivations for using technology were examined: connecting with others and learning new information. Just looking at the motivations, the researchers found that these older adults were more motivated to use such technology for social purposes, which is consistent with other research showing that social connections are of greater importance than gaining information as we age.

As for outcomes associated with specific motivations, using technology to connect with other people showed an even stronger association with higher life satisfaction, lower loneliness, and greater goal attainment. The authors suggest that these associations may be a result of greater social support gained by individuals motivated to use technology for connecting with others. On the other hand, the motivation to use technology to gain information showed an additional beneficial association with health and functional limitations. The authors suggest that these associations for information-seeking motivations may reflect participants using technology to gain health-related information.


Sims T, Reed AE and Carr DC. Information and communication technology use is related to higher well-being among the oldest-old. Journal of Gerontology B Series: Psychological Science & Social Science. (2016) DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbw130


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