Schlomann, Anna Lena (2018). Older Adults’ Preferences towards Using Digital Technologies: Usage Patterns, Facilitators and Barriers for Long-term Use, Potential for Gerontological Research. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Over the last years, internet-adoption rates have risen in older age groups, with older people starting to use the internet and smartphone technology in more nuanced ways. Still, little is known about how older people interact with new digital technology in their everyday lives. This dissertation contributes to a better understanding of these topics. The overall research question deals with older adults’ preferences towards using digital technologies. The first part of the work presents the theoretical background. The life course perspective provides a conceptual framework. Different theories explaining technology adoption and their empirical evidence for people in old are summarised. This synthesis gives an overview on how the topic is discussed within different scientific disciplines. Two relevant fields of application, digital health and the use of digital technology in gerontological research, are addressed in more detail. In own studies, three specific research foci were examined: (1) usage patterns, (2) facilitators and barriers for long-term use, and (3) the potential of digital technologies for gerontological research. These aspects have been addressed in five publications that are the basis of this dissertation. A cross-sectional survey in individuals aged 50 and older showed that 29.0% do not use any mobile device in their everyday life and 20.5% use mobile devices for physical activity tracking. Gender, age, and interest in technology were associated with technology use. In a qualitative study, facilitators and barriers of long-term use were identified for a specific digital technology, an activity tracker. Facilitators included awareness of achievements and a reminder function of the device. Lacking customisation, declining interest, and difficult manageability impeded long-term use. In a conceptual evaluation, the advantages and disadvantages of using digital technologies in surveys in the older population were addressed. These findings are discussed at a general level in the last part of the dissertation. Following the appraisal of the main findings in the general research context and a methodological discussion, the integration of technology and gerontological theory is made a subject of discussion. Recommendations for future research are suggested.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-84445
Date: July 2018
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Heilpädagogik und Rehabilitation
Subjects: no entry
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Older adults, gerontology, digital technology, digitization, digital healthEnglish
Date of oral exam: 12 July 2018
NameAcademic Title
Rietz, ChristianProf. Dr.
Zank, SusanneProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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