Understanding the complex link between aging and technology: does subjective well-being matter more than age among the oldest old?

Martine Lagacé, Lise Van de Beeck
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Results of recent studies suggest that the oldest of the old are the target of ageist stereotypes and discrimination more than their younger peers. For example, individuals aged 75 years old are perceived as less capable of learning and adapting to technologies than persons aged 65 years old. However, the link between aging and technology is not a direct one and plausibly entails other factors beyond chronological age. The goal of the current study is to further understand how the oldest of the old perceive traditional and new technologies as well as to explore the role of factors that may impact such perception. To do so, a sample of 1096 Canadians aged 75 years old and above took part in a survey questionnaire. Diversity of technology usage in relation to subjective well-being were investigated. Results suggest that the oldest of the old have significantly higher rates of subjective well-being (health wise) than their younger peers. More so, subjective well-being seems to positively impact the ways in which persons aged 75 years old use technologies (for example, by increasing the different activities undertaken with traditional and new technology). Such results undoubtedly put into question the concept of ageism by which the sole criteria of age is used to determine a person’s ability to navigate and adapt to technologies.