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Internet Use across the Life-Span

W. Timothy Coombs

Subject Communication and Development » Developmental Communication
Media System » Internet and New Media

Key-Topics age

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Internet usage refers primarily to the online activities of visiting web pages and using email (→  Electronic Mail ). It is reasonable to expect differences in online activities between different age groups. However, international Internet data frequently excludes age as a variable, making age-based analyses more challenging ( Findahl 2004 ). To evaluate the data that does exist accurately, both general and specific Internet usage needs to be considered when comparing age groups and Internet usage. General usage simply refers to going online. Specific usage refers to what activities are performed online (→  Internet ). The biggest demographic difference in general online usage is between those aged 65+ and those under 65 (→  Exposure to the Internet ). This pattern holds across a wide array of countries including those with high (e.g., South Korea and Sweden) and low (e.g., China and Mexico) penetration of Internet usage. The pattern in the US is typical, with only 34 percent of those 65 and older engaging in online activities. That number decreases as age increases. Only 26 percent of those aged 70 to 75 were online and only 17 percent of those 76 and older ( Jones & Fox 2009 ). In Sweden, 24 percent of those aged 65 to 74 engage in online activities and the figure drops to 7 percent for those over 75 ( Findahl 2004 ). In Germany, only 5 percent of those over 60 are online ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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